If things stay the same, the Miami Hurricanes (7-1) are destined to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
The initial College Football Playoffs rankings notched the ‘Canes at No. 10, making them the third highest-ranked team in the ACC, behind none other than No. 2 Notre Dame (8-0) and the No. 3 Clemson Tigers (7-1). Additionally, the committee felt comfortable putting Miami above No. 14 BYU (9-0) and No. 15 Oregon (3-0), two programs the AP Top 25 listed higher than UM.
Although they’re fairly pleased with their position, some questions have arisen on whether the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (5-2) merit a higher position than the Hurricanes, considering that their losses to No. 1 Alabama (7-0) and No. 6 Florida (6-1) ended in blowouts for Kirby Smart’s team.
Regardless, it’s a spot to be appreciated for, as it’s the first time Miami has been placed in the initial CFB rankings since 2017, in which UM started at No. 10 and later leaped into the No. 2 spot before losing to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
That being said, things are far from settled. Miami has football to play, and a chance to impress those in the committee.
“With Miami, you look at their schedule coming up, they are technically not out of it,” ESPN analyst David Pollack said Tuesday. “They are kind of forgotten because they haven’t played great football where you think of them as a playoff contender, but they are still very much in the mix at No. 10.”
ESPN’s playoff predictor gives Miami a 1.2 percent chance to ultimately make it into a top-four. Here are some ways the Hurricanes can flip the switch and pull the improbable:
Win out – obviously – and capture a promising victory over North Carolina.
The Hurricanes’ remaining regular season schedule is the following: at Wake Forest (4-3), vs. North Carolina (6-2) and vs. Georgia Tech (2-5).
For obvious reasons, winning-out is a necessity to even stay in the top 10, yet again move higher in the rankings. Most importantly, they’ll need to showcase top-tier football against the No. 19 Tar Heels on Dec. 5, as it’ll be a chance to prove to the committee that they can suit up against the nation’s best. UNC’s upcoming game against the Fighting Irish will play dividends, too. A potential upset or tight battle for UNC proves how competitive they are, which would make a UM win over them much sweeter.
Such a win could bump Miami above Georgia and No. 8 Northwestern (8-0), two teams who won’t face serious competition as their seasons wind down. No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0) could also feel the wrath of the Hurricanes if they show-out in their final three games.
Hope for a miracle.
Coming into the 2020 season, Miami’s one-way ticket to the College Football Playoffs was to make their way to the ACC Championship and most likely defeat Clemson. Regardless of them losing in their early season showdown, those hopes remained a reality, and it seemed as if it was bound to happen.
Then, Notre Dame beat the Trevor Lawrence-less Tigers.
With a 6-1 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play, Miami would need the Tigers (6-1 ACC) to lose one game or the Fighting Irish (7-0 ACC) to lose two before the end of the season for UM to qualify for the Dec. 19 game. Clemson takes on Pittsburgh (5-4) and Virginia Tech (4-5) to close out the season, while Notre Dame prepares for UNC (6-2), Syracuse (1-8) and Wake Forest (4-3).
Although it’s not impossible, the likelihood an upset takes place seem are very unlikely.
That’s exactly why Manny Diaz’s program will need a miracle of a prayer to happen because their remaining strength in schedule won’t be enough.
The fate of Miami’s CFP chances won’t be in their hands this time around. It’s on the rest of the country to mess up and give UM breathing room.