To play the disrespect card demands the questions and concerns aimed at your team not be rooted in reality. So Miami (Fla.) keeps that card in its pocket. When it comes to the Hurricanes, the truth is that this a team deeply involved in the championship race by virtue of its unbeaten record and little more.

That helps explains why Miami finds itself 10th in the debut College Football Playoff rankings, last among unbeaten Power Five programs and behind another six one-loss contenders. You can’t quibble with the standings – there are no asterisks beside that unblemished record – but you can nitpick the performance: Miami hasn’t exactly looked the part.

“I don’t see where we’re competing for a national title yet,” second-year coach Mark Richt told USA TODAY Sports. “We’re competing for a Coastal Division championship. That’s the focus right now.”

Meet the most interesting story in the Playoff chase. In a season of firsts – or a year of firsts-in-a-while achievements – Miami stands as a series of contrasts. Good enough to enter November unscathed, but questionable enough in doing so to come under scrutiny. Talented enough to out-athlete its opposition but inexperienced enough to hit a learning curve, one still in progress.