-- I understand why the ACC decided not to play a nine-game conference schedule, but I don't agree with it, and I think it will come back to hurt the league's champion in playoff considerations. Every time the ACC champion is compared to its counterpart from the Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten, it will have played one less conference game.
1. With all due respect to the other dozen or so games that Hurricane Matthew is threatening to postpone this weekend, the one that may leave a mark is No. 23 Florida State at No. 10 Miami. I don't know how that game could be made up, because the teams don't share an open date. If it's not made up, what effect will it have on the Hurricanes' playoff chances? What happens if Miami finishes a half-game out of the ACC Coastal championship? And if it is rescheduled, what shape will Florida State and Miami be in then?
2. The Hurricanes are starting four freshmen, including at all three linebacker spots. With archrival Florida State on deck, someone asked Miami head coach Mark Richt what sort of confidence he had in his first-year starters. "It better be high, because that's all we got," Richt said.
Linebackers Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney have combined for 8.5 tackles for loss and one interception. The Seminoles, though, will be different. "The [freshmen] have not been through certain types of games that they're about to go through," Richt said. "They might hear it and visualize what it might be like, but until you live through it, it's a different animal."
3. We take for granted that No. 1 Alabama is going to be good. Is Nick Saban still coaching? Next question. But the seamless transition in defensive coordinator from Kirby Smart to Jeremy Pruitt is worth noting. The starting defense has given up a touchdown only to Ole Miss, which, yes, scored 43 points. But even then, after halftime, the Rebels scored only a field goal and, with the Crimson Tide leading 48-30, a spasm of two touchdowns in a span of :08 in the final minutes. To put it another way: Alabama's defense has allowed six touchdowns this season -- and scored five.
4. Are you ready to ring the alarm in the SEC? The league is 5-5 against the other Power 5 conferences and 0-5 against top-10 opponents, although that will change this week, when No. 9 Tennessee plays at No. 8 Texas A&M. One team has to win. The SEC quarterbacks, with the exception of Chad Kelly of Ole Miss, Josh Dobbs of Tennessee and Trevor Knight of Texas A&M, are inexperienced. And what about this? With the firing of Les Miles at LSU, Saban is the only coach in the league who has won even 100 games. Bret Bielema of Arkansas is second with 90 victories.
5. In the wake of No. 5 Washington's 44-6 rout of No. 15 Stanford, Huskies wide receiver John Ross says the score was an aberration. "I still feel like that is a really good team," Ross said. What did he see to convince him of that? "Just that they really didn't back down," he said. "We got off to a really good start in the first half. They kind of slowed us down in the second half. I just know they're better than that. We all can tell. The film doesn't lie. We've seen the games." Both the Huskies (at Oregon) and the Cardinal (home vs. Washington State) have important Pac-12 North games on Saturday.
6. As the Pac-12 Networks continue to struggle to gain traction in the television marketplace, both California and Washington State are dealing with significant athletic budget deficits. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reported this week that the Berkeley athletic department is projecting a loss of $21.76 million. Washington State pegged its loss earlier this year at approximately $13 million. A plan released last month by university president Kirk Schultz and athletic director Bill Moos to close the deficit included nearly $2 million from increasing student fees. They released the plan shortly after Cougars coach Mike Leach suggested that local police are targeting his players and not arresting others involved.
7. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich is throwing open the quarterback job. He said he will give freshman Justin Herbert a chance to win the job from FCS transfer Dakota Prukop on Saturday, when No. 5 Washington comes to Eugene. Why is this even a topic of discussion when defense is the Ducks' problem, same as it ever was? It may be unfair to judge new coordinator Brady Hoke and his 4-3 scheme. But Oregon ranks 10th or 11th in the Pac-12 in the major defensive categories. Opposing offenses have reached the red zone 25 times, scoring 19 touchdowns. Only one other Pac-12 school, Arizona, has allowed 19 red zone trips.