USC linebackers on the rise; Tennessee's senior class in the tank

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3. USC LBs Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews.
Maualuga, Cushing and Matthews spearheaded the latest dominant performance turned in by the Trojans' defense, a 17-3 handling of California. The trio combined for 23 total tackles, including four for lost yardage and one sack. USC has outscored opponents 231-23 during its current six-game winning streak, and prior to their recent trip to Los Angeles the Golden Bears were averaging 36.4 points per game, with a season low of 24.

4. North Carolina's defense
The complex triple-option offense of Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson often causes system overload for the opponent, but that was not the case for North Carolina. Tar Heels coach Butch Davis and defensive coordinator Everett Withers obviously used their bye week wisely because the Tar Heel defense was keyed in on Saturday. Georgia Tech did not advance the ball past the Tar Heels' 23-yard line until RB Jonathan Dwyer's 85-yard touchdown run with six minutes remaining. The result was a comfortable 28-7 victory that keeps North Carolina very much alive in the muddied ACC Coastal race.

5. Missouri WR/RS Jeremy Maclin
This is just a friendly reminder that Maclin remains the most dangerous weapon in college football today. The versatile sophomore chipped in with 278 all-purpose yards during Missouri's 41-24 thumping of Kansas State. Maclin finished with 118 yards on eight receptions, including two for scores, and sprinted 56 yards for another touchdown on a direct snap.