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Nick Saban still hasn’t lost to a former assistant. Can Jimbo Fisher be the first?

Plus more national nuggets, including a bright spot for Lovie Smith’s Illini.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher walks the sideline against Arkansas on Sept. 28 in Arlington, Texas. Texas A&M won 31-27. [RON JENKINS | AP]
Published Oct. 11

With his national title at Florida State, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher is Nick Saban’s most accomplished former assistant. Saturday, he’ll try to end a stunning statistic by becoming the first Sabanite to beat the master’s Crimson Tide:

Jim McElwain, Colorado State/Florida: 0-3

Will Muschamp, UF/South Carolina: 0-3

Derek Dooley, Tennessee: 0-3

Jimbo Fisher, FSU/A&M: 0-2

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: 0-2

Kirby Smart, Georgia: 0-2

Billy Napier, Louisiana: 0-1

Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee: 0-1

RELATED: Georgia and FSU won with Sabanites. The Gators went 0-for-2

Assistants on the rise

If you know of any schools looking for a new head coach, keep an eye on LSU. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady has done a remarkable job transforming LSU’s offense into one of the best air attacks in the nation. But the former Saints assistant is only 30, so he’d be a gamble for any up-and-coming program. Teams have been fighting for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, which is why his $2.5 million salary makes him the highest paid assistant in the country. He might be overpriced for a Group of Five opening, but could a power program lure him away? Speaking of coaching openings…

Helton’s hot seat

Between a recent administrative change and his 29-15 record as a full-time head coach, USC’s Clay Helton is in trouble. His 1-3 record against rival Notre Dame doesn’t help. An upset over the No. 9 Irish might not be enough to save his job, but it might be able to spark a second-half turnaround that buys him another season.

RELATED: Why Peyton Manning, Drew Brees will impact Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers

Lovie losing

Illinois coach Lovie Smith speaks with an official during a timeout in the first half against Nebraska on Sept. 21. [HOLLY HART | AP]

Former Bucs coach Lovie Smith has something positive brewing at Illinois. His Illini rank in the top five nationally in tackles for loss per game (10) and fumble recoveries (eight). It probably won’t matter against Jim Harbaugh. No. 16 Michigan should roll and drop Smith to 11-31 since he left Tampa Bay.

Red River Shootout

Texas’ only hope for victory involves turning this game into a shootout. Only four teams in the nation are allowing more passing yards per game than the Longhorns (325), and only four teams in the nation are throwing for more yards per game than the Sooners (355). Can Texas gunslinger Sam Ehlinger find a way to keep up with Jalen Hurts?

RELATED: Four things we know about the Florida Gators after their Auburn win

Local of the week

Toledo safety DeDarallo Blue (21) in action against Brigham Young on Sept. 28. [RICK OSENTOSKI | AP]

Toledo linebacker DeDarallo Blue (Armwood High)

USF-UCF is the War on I-4. Toledo-Bowling Green? It’s the Battle of I-75. This is the 100th anniversary of the first meeting between the two schools, 20 miles apart on 75. Expect the Rockets to earn a 10th consecutive in win the series behind Blue, a team captain who recorded a career-high nine tackles in a win over BYU last month.

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