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Tuesday Tweetbag: Strength of schedule debate, Pac-12 parity

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(AP Photo/Mike Groll)(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Jameis Winston has the Seminoles in the playoff race, and Shaq Thompson is a Heisman contender.

Week 7 college football action is in the books, so we decided to fire up the Tuesday Tweetbag to tackle the burning topics on your mind this season about everything from top pro prospects to the best teams in the sport.

Feel free to submit your questions to @BryanDFischer on Twitter each Monday or early Tuesday morning to get them answered every week. Without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.

I can't wait to see the strength of schedule debate evolve in the next two weeks prior to the actual College Football Playoff selection committee releasing its poll of top teams. Only then will we know how much the SOS component really matters in the race to be in the top four.

>> College Football Playoff Picture: If the season ended today

As for the question, I think it's something that favors Florida State but is still a question where you have to take into account how well the teams are playing when seeding them. The Seminoles have wins over five Power Five programs, including a solid Big 12 team in Oklahoma State and the ACC's second-best squad in Clemson (with their backup quarterback against the Tigers). The rest of their conference wins are nothing special, but they've won them all by a comfortable margin at the end of the day.

Ole Miss, on the other hand, has a solid non-conference slate that is better than people think when looking at it at first glance. Boise State still has a chance to win the Mountain West, Louisiana-Lafayette is a solid Sun Belt team and Memphis is a better team than folks realize. Plus, beating Alabama and Texas A&M will carry a lot more weight than FSU's ACC wins outside of Clemson. It's a closer debate than most realize. I'd give the narrow edge to the Rebels if I'm seeding them based on how well they've played and a solid schedule.

We're going to keep addressing this question as the season goes on, but I think the Pac-12 has proven it's No. 2 at a minimum and has a great case against the SEC for the top conference in the country given the issues with the East Division. While it's true there looks to be only one "elite" team this year in Oregon, I think if you line up leagues from 1-12 and have them play, the Pac-12 would have the winning record against just about everybody.

>> College Football 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings

In fact, Oregon's Mark Helfrich nailed this exact issue on the Pac-12 coaches teleconference Tuesday: "In some leagues, parity equals mediocrity," he said. "In other conferences, parity equals strength."

The latter is the case out West.

This line of thinking is not new for UCLA fans, who have seen the Bruins recruit very well under Jim Mora but haven't seen the on-field progress as much as they would like. This is especially evident along the offensive line, where the highly paid Adrian Klemm is known for his ability to reel in blue chips but not for coaching them up. UCLA's inability to get over the hump and beat Pac-12 powers Oregon and Stanford is where this divide between Rivals/Scout rankings and on-field play really shows up, but some perspective is needed.

First off, I wouldn't say UCLA has any bad coaches. Have they been out-coached at times? Sure. They can be better, but it's not time to go burning the house down just because you don't like the wallpaper. It does seem clear the loss of Lou Spanos to the Tennessee Titans is being felt, but UCLA can still regroup and have a good season. I'm sure Mora will make some staff changes in the offseason, but I think he's a loyal guy who will stick with most of them knowing what they're capable of as assistants.

Yes, yes and yes. We're already starting to see Thompson's name surface on lists of Heisman voters at the halfway point of the season, and he has a terrific chance of even more recognition with a big game against Oregon this week. On a defense full of studs (Danny Shelton, Marcus Peters, Hau'oli Kikaha, etc.), he's stood out as an impact player and might actually be even better at running back, as hard as that is to believe.

>> CFB 24/7's 2014 Midseason All-America Team

It's mind-blowing that only one other FBS team in the country has more defensive touchdowns than Thompson at this point in the year. If he gets some more opportunities on offense, I can certainly see him making it to New York as a finalist. It won't be enough to just rest on his defensive laurels (which are stellar), though.

There's little doubt that the rise of spread offenses has shifted the stat conversation for quarterbacks, given how prolific some of them are nowadays. I think most Heisman voters use stats to help narrow the field of candidates, but at the end of the day, it still seems like big wins and "Heisman moments" matter most.

>> Heisman Watch: 10 candidates for college football's top individual award

Just looking at Mariota and Petty, both are mobile quarterbacks who can use their feet to score touchdowns, but the Ducks' signal-caller is clearly the one who incorporates running into his game more than his Big 12 counterpart. You could look at things from a straight up yards-to-yards comparison, but that wouldn't emphasize each QB's strengths. I would weight Petty's rushing yards just a tad more than Mariota even though the zone-read and his legs are a part of the Baylor offense. Likewise on the passing front, Petty has one of the deepest wide receiving corps in the country while Mariota has an almost brand-new cast this season. The Baylor quarterback also has the far superior offensive line. All these are factors voters should consider when looking at stats the two are putting up.

At the end of the day, though, most will probably go with the quarterback who hits certain stat thresholds and has the bigger wins on his resume.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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