The Whole Nine Yards with Mia O'Brien

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By MIA O'BRIEN
College Contributor Network

Can 'Noles "win" without "Winston?"

For a split second, I thought Florida State would crumble to Clemson without its star quarterback on the field.

And then I remembered the Seminoles play in the ACC.

And that Jameis Winston is not a savior. Nor is he a demi-god. Nor, some could say, is he a very good "student-athlete."

Even beyond their near-defeat at the hands of North Carolina State last week, or their Winston-less overtime win against the Tigers, the Seminoles have bigger problems to address even beyond their troubled star quarterback.

This team is ranked 103rd in the country in rushing yards and allows an average of 25 points a game. Will its strength of schedule help them out? Of course -- but that's not to say that a sub-par defense, a dismal running game, and a self-destructive time bomb under center make a "winning" combination by any stretch of the imagination.

The quest for perfection: the SEC West

I'm a New York Yankees fan, so, yes, Aggies, Rebels, Crimson Tide: I know what it's like to be the team (or division) that everyone wants to hate. But it's moreso out of spite and sheer admiration that through six weeks of the college football season, five of the seven teams in the SEC West remain undefeated and one of the two remaining teams is 4-1.

Sure, only two of the teams have played more than one conference game, so, inevitably, they'll all begin knocking each other off sooner rather than later. But for now, even for those of us not worthy enough to be fans of one of these powerhouses, it's time we took a second to appreciate something you don't see every season.

Cougars, Bears, oh my!

Is there schedule as tough as for a team in the SEC West? No. But are they deserving of this headline? Absolutely.

Two teams in the AP Top 25 not many anticipated seeing this high one quarter of the way through the season are the Cougars of Brigham Young University and the Baylor Bears. Does one play an independent league schedule? Yes. Does one play in the "Oklahoma Conference" (aka the Big 12)? Yes. But both are undefeated heading into the weekend, and, especially in the case of Da Bears, are leading all of Division I football in several statistics.

Could one say that the Bears have the best scoring average in college football through their pummeling of Southern Methodist University 45-0, Northwestern State 70-6, and Buffalo 63-21? Sure. Could one say that playing in-state rival Texas this weekend will tell us who this Baylor team really is? Sure.

But I could also tell you that the "easy schedule" No. 18 BYU has played thus far featured a 41-7 drubbing of Texas. And that the Cougars have nowhere near the offense No. 7 Baylor does (albeit a decent one). Just two teams to keep on the back burner.

What to watch for

There's a LOT of conference play coming up this weekend, meaning a lot of things could happen -- and a lot of "undefeated" teams could no longer be perfect.

A big matchup to watch will, indeed, be between one of those perfect teams and that 4-1 team in the SEC: No. 15 LSU and No. 5 Auburn. Beyond a big time conference matchup, the outcome of this battle between the Tigers most definitely will take a toll on the national rankings.

A bold prediction: this game pits the sixth-best defense in the country (LSU) against a team that's only giving up 16 points a game (Auburn). Don't be surprised if this one plays out like a baseball game.

Outside the SEC, all eyes will be on the Stanford-Notre Dame contest, another game that also promises to be a low-scoring, albeit entertaining affair. The Cardinals lead all of college football, giving up a mere six points a game, while the Fighting Irish are ranked fourth in that category.

The key to the game will be if Everett Golson can truly cement his status as back, and better than ever. Even better than his 2012 performance? We'll see.

Who to watch for

Not necessarily one person or team, but a whole state is where all eyes should be trained this weekend.

Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State square off in (of course) an SEC West matchup; Miss. State is looking for its first victory over a Top-15 ranked opponent in over 50 years (yes, 5-0). The Bulldogs are well on their way after a statement victory over LSU last week, but, aside from that, neither team has yet to face any "major" opponent and own any signature wins. That'll change after this weekend.

West coast shakeup?

Well... yeah. Drafted this headline before the Arizona–Oregon game. And it ain't changing.

But beyond a game that, at least in this writer's opinion, should've seen a much higher score heading into the second half, this weekend's bound to change the pecking order of the Pac-12 and, yes, the "playoff picture."

The matchup to watch for in this conference (aside from Thursday night's game): USC–Arizona State.

The Trojans are, relatively quietly, the No. 16 team in the nation, while the Sun Devils are 3-1. That one loss? To the No. 8 UCLA Bruins (who we'll get to shortly). Like its fellow Grand Canyon state school, ASU has a big-time offense (16th in the country in points scored, 17th in rushing), and its two tailbacks that have seen the bulk of the carries are a junior and a freshman. With that said, the Sun Devils have to step it up defensively to give USC a run for its mone,y especially after allowing 62 points to the Bruins last week.

Speaking of those 62 points: just how good is UCLA? 4-0, yes. Dominant in its first conference game, yes. But the Bruins just squeaked out their other three victories over Virginia, Texas, and Memphis (only beating Memphis by a touchdown). The Bruins host Utah (3-1) this weekend, and it will be interesting to see which role this team of two tales takes on in Week 6.

For your reading pleasure

Not so much a great article as much as an awesome act by one university in honoring an alum and former Buffalo Bills great.

The OTHER cheeseheads

You hear about the Badgers (the perennial D-III powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater), but how about the Pointers of Stevens-Point?

The unranked-UWSP remained undefeated with a 34-27 upset over No. 5 North Central in NCAA Division III action.

The Pointers scored 18 points in the second half after trailing by one at the break, but the big story at the end of this one was the defense, which stuffed a quarterback keeper by North Central on fourth-and-one at their 47-yard line. UWSP also had three interceptions on the day.

It's probably the first time that most fans are hearing about the Pointers, since they upset the then-defending national champion Whitewater by a one-point margin in 2008 -- UWSP's last victory over a top-10 team.

They jumped into the D3Football.com Top 25, all the way to 17th with the win. Of course, those better-known Wisconsin schools are also featured in this week's poll: UW-Platteville is just behind the Pointers at 18th, while Whitewater remains the top D3 football team in the country.

Moral of the story? We should all be having more cheese this week.

The last laugh

Amazing coverage by The Michigan Daily through this Brady Hoke business.

Amazing playlist.


Mia O'Brien is a senior at Ithaca College's Roy H. Park School of Communications, where basically everyone calls her "Mobrien." She's a fan of country music, a good debate, and French dressing -- in no particular order. For sports updates, random musings, and many a creative hashtag, follow her on Twitter: @OBSportsLive16
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