AROUND THE NATION

Compiled by Ray Cox

GAME OF THE DAY

No. 2 Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 16 Washington (4-1, 1-1), 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Oregon’s new football-operations building has Brazilian wood floors, German-built lockers and Ferrari-grade leather.

So this is how you get to be No. 2 in the country, making a stiff challenge for a national championship. You get Phil Knight backing your team, and off into the fast lane you go.

That’s the popular narrative that surrounds the Ducks, and if you’re a Washington die-hard who shudders every time you go south of the state line, that’s the convenient one for you: Oregon got good, it’s pounded Washington nine consecutive times, because of Phil Knight.

It’s not that easy.

Today, Oregon is a curious combination of the billionaire Knight’s largesse, and a mom-and-pop ethic of loyalty, continuity and efficiency beneath all that glitz.

When Knight wanted rugs for the new building, he turned to Nepal. When he wants coaches, he looks to Eugene.

Six Oregon assistant football coaches have a combined 129 years on the staff. Nick Aliotti, 59, the defensive coordinator, is secure enough in his place that he said the other day: “We’re 100 percent grateful for everything Phil Knight has done. But we went to the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, and then Phil Knight jumped in.

“We brought this to where it is from nothing. The chicken or the egg: Which came first? We won first. In this case, the chicken came first.”

“We have a lot of shiny stuff,” said first-year coach Mark Helfrich, the third head coach in a row hired out of the Oregon staff, “but the people inside those buildings are what make it go.

— Bud Withers, Seattle Times

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: TEXAS COACH MACK BROWN

On the occasion of the annual Texas-Oklahoma game, the 108th in the Red River Rivalry, consider the curious case of Mack Brown.

The Texas coach has 239 career wins, 10th in history among college football coaches, and the names immediately ahead of him are Lou Holtz, Tom Osborne, LaVell Edwards and Frank Beamer. The first three are in the College Football Hall of Fame, and Beamer probably will be.

Yet Brown is considered, to put it inelegantly, a dead man walking if he doesn’t beat Oklahoma at noon Saturday in Dallas.

Most would say he has been a credit to the game, he’s a people-person and good with the media, but the situation is code blue among Burnt Orange Nation. Brown is 25-18 since the start of the 2010 season, and for a program that has its own TV network, that isn’t good enough.

Moreover, Oklahoma has put some reverberating poundings on the Longhorns over the years — 63-21 and 55-17 the past two — and given the Longhorns’ fragile state, a lot of people are expecting it to happen again.

Brown’s 153 wins at Texas are second to the legendary Darrell Royal’s 167, but it would be a major upset if he can get those last 14 to surpass Royal.

Texas needs to begin winning for this rivalry to remain in place. As former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said: If (the series) is 15-1, it’s not a rivalry.”

Brown understands: “I think it’s really important. That’s what I’ve said and why I’ve been very open about the fact we haven’t held up our end of it lately.”

WORDS ABOUT … UCLA LINEBACKERS

They are not the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, but the four-man unit is a strength for the Bruins.

Jordan Zumwalt, the most disruptive linebacker, on why playing the position is fun: Being able to make the guy across from you feel like he doesn't want to be hit anymore. It's making the other guy feel inferior.

UCLA linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich on Zumwalt: I love his spirit, but I keep reminding him that there are rules to playing linebacker.

Ulbrich on Anthony Barr, a preseason All-American because of his pass-rush ability, who was asked to change his style against Utah and Nebraska: We told him, "Don't do what you worked the entire offseason to do, don't do that thing the entire country said made you an elite player. We wanted him to hold the edge and not let the quarterback out. He did. It was a huge indicator of an unselfish player.

UCLA coach Jim Mora on Myles Jack, who makes a lot of flashy and head's up plays: To move as quickly and compactly as he does, and then put his foot in the ground to change direction with that kind of power, is pretty rare.

Ulbrich on junior middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, who had 150 tackles a season ago: He is physical and tough, and the icing on the cake is he has the range and speed to cover receivers.

— Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times

SIX PACK

No. 12 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) vs. Texas (3-2, 2-0), noon, ABC: In normal circumstances, the story of this game is the winner takes a big step forward in the Big 12. Instead, the non-conference losses have Texas coach Mack Brown on the ropes and a devastating loss to the rival Sooners for the third consecutive season could be the end for him. David Ash remains out as Texas quarterback and Case McCoy gets his third consecutive start. The Longhorns are 3-12 against ranked opponents since 2010.

Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1 ACC) at No. 24 Virginia Tech (5-1, 2-0), noon, ESPNU: The Panthers can make some noise in the ACC with a victory, but quarterback Tom Savage, cleared to play after being knocked out of the game against Virginia, will need to play as he did against Duke (six TD passes) for Pitt to challenge. The Panthers have won the past four games in this series.

Boston College (3-2, 1-1 ACC) at No. 3 Clemson (5-0, 3-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC: The Eagles rank 13th among 14 ACC teams in defense (210 yards allowed passing) and are unlikely to pose a challenge to quarterback Tajh Boyd (averaging 383 passing yards in his past two games) as the Tigers clear one final step before hosting Florida State on Oct.19 in a game with BCS-title implications.

No. 18 Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (3-2, 0-1), 5 p.m., ESPN: Michigan holds the most unimpressive 5-0 record in the nation with narrow victories against Akron and Connecticut included. This is an upset in the making when they face a Penn State team with a fast-improving freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. Penn State has won three in a row in the series.

No. 5 Stanford (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) at Utah (3-2, 0-2), 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network: The Cardinal has won 13 games in a row, and the Utes gave UCLA a scare a week ago. Utah has eight plays of 50 or more yards, and that kind of explosive offense could give Stanford a problem. The Utes are fighting history: They are 0-4 against ranked conference teams since joining the Pac-12.

California (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) at No. 11 UCLA (4-0, 1-0), 10:30 p.m., ESPN2: Worth a look to see Cal's Jared Goff, who is coming off a 504-yard passing performance and will face an UCLA defense that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Bruins are favored by 24 1/2 as they prepare to play Stanford next week. Cal has faced three Top 25 teams in six games and has yet to beat an FBS foe despite putting up strong offensive statistics. That's mainly because the Bears allow 45 points per game (No. 2 in the nation) and 524 yards per game.

SPOTLIGHT ON … AL BORGES

After 10 turnovers in his first four games, Michigan offensive coordinator Borges wanted to improve quarterback Devin Gardner’s confidence as much as his fundamentals.

So he referred back to the previous dual-threat quarterback he developed: Auburn’s Jason Campbell.

“When I coached Jason and I came in there, everyone wanted to replace him,” Borges recalled the 2004 season to the Detroit Free Press. “Everybody (said), ‘This kid’s not confident. He makes bad decisions. Let the other kid play.’ Same old deal; the backup’s the best player until the backup plays. …

“But with Jason, I told him, ‘I want you to go out there and let it rip, and I will correct your errors. If you make a few mistakes, we’ll just fix the mistakes. But I don’t want you to be scared. I want you to use good fundamentals, I want you to use good judgment.’ These are all things I told Devin Gardner.

“But you can’t go out there and think, ‘Oh, my God, if I throw over there, it’s going to be an interception, or if I throw this ball … .’ Just know what your references are: Don’t throw the ball late over the middle, don’t dangle the ball when you carry it, don’t do those things and go out there and be apprehensive, either. I learned with Jason, if you showed that you believed in him, and if he did what you told him to do, he would succeed. He had the best year of his career.”

Campbell jumped from 10 passing touchdowns as a junior before Borges to 20 as a senior under Borges, leading Auburn to an undefeated season.