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Stewart Mandel's Three-Point Stance

A much-improved defense is the key to Northwestern's first 5--0 start since1962. Under new coordinator Mike Hankwitz, the Wildcats rank ninth nationallyin scoring defense (12.4 points per game), up from 88th a year ago, and with 17sacks are just one short of last season's total.

BYU (4--0) is up to seventh in the coaches poll and eighth in the AP poll.Traditionally, an unofficial ceiling has been placed on non-BCS teams (in 2004undefeated Utah peaked at No. 4), but increased respect for the Mountain Westcould prompt voters to treat the Cougars more generously.

No. 4 Missouri's defense ranks 79th in yards allowed, but the Tigers (4--0) saythat's because their offense scores so quickly. We'll soon find out if that'sthe case: They face top 20 passers Joe Ganz (Nebraska), Zac Robinson (OklahomaState) and Colt McCoy (Texas) in their next three games.