Welcome back, Canes fam!
With your Miami Hurricanes undefeated at 9-0, the question has changed from “will Miami be ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings?” to “How high will Miami be ranked in the CFP rankings?”
Since there are many members of the actual committee, I thought it would be fun to tag in a few SOTU writers to make our own mock committee. Each writer will advocate for Miami to be ranked at a particular spot in the top 6. No, these aren’t necessarily our actual beliefs (I DON’T THINK MIAMI SHOULD BE RANKED 6TH SO DON’T @ ME, BRO!!!!), but we’re playing the role of a committee member who has that viewpoint — they likely exist, because committee members have biases just like you or I do — and what the argument might be to support that ranking.
Get it? Got it? Good.
And now, your SOTU mock CFP committee begins their arguments:
Why Miami should be #1 - Donovan Hutchins
Ranking the Miami Hurricanes at #1 in the College Football Playoffs rankings this week may seem farfetched. They started last week at #7 and the various narratives of the Canes having a weak schedule and an inability to “dominate” for the first half of the season has contributed to low rankings for the first two CFP rankings despite being undefeated. The Canes remained undefeated this weekend, but half the teams in front of them did not fare so well, opening up an opportunity to move up. The #1 team, UGA, was embarrassed, #3 Notre Dame was smacked in the mouth by Miami and #6 TCU also stumbled. These losses left #2 Alabama Crimson Tide, #4 Clemson Tigers and #5 Oklahoma Sooners in front of the Canes going into this week. Simply shifting everyone up based on the fact they won, we would expect the Canes to be no less than #4 behind Bama, Clemson, and OU. However, if you apply our own methodology, based on the criteria listed on our own CFP official site, you will find that Miami should undoubtedly be #1 and here’s the two biggest reasons why:
1. Winning over everything!
The Canes should jump ahead of every 1 loss team in front of them. Our criteria states that “every game counts”. If this statement is true, then a team that is not consistent enough every weekend to get a victory should not out rank a team that finds ways to win. We should not rate imperfection over perfection as members of a Power 5 conference. This instantly removes Clemson and OU out of the #2 and #3 slots. Remember, people always ask “if you won and not how you won”, but if you need more rationale than the fact that the Canes “9-0” > Other Team “9-1”, I have the following:
A. The Canes man-handled Notre Dame, the consensus best 1-loss team in the nation, as they were ranked #3 in CFP and AP polls. With a victory of 41-8, it would be difficult to keep another 1 loss team ahead of the Canes.
B. Miami has a better record versus the same opponents compared to Clemson. Against Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and FSU, Clemson is 3-1 and Miami is 4-0.
C. While OU has a strong resume with wins over current AP ranked teams #8, #10 and #11, it cannot be over looked that they were defeated by a 4-loss team.
D. While the AP and Coaches Polls do not have any bearing on the CFP rankings, they do shine light on how the “experts” rack and stack teams. It is of note that both the Coaches and AP poll unanimously places the Canes ahead of every 1-loss team.
2. Who is #1?
After my first point, the Canes are in the #2 spot behind Bama, the presumable favorite for the #1 ranking tonight. But, looking at the data, the Canes should pull off another upset in November. It is our duty to evaluate each team’s performance for 2017 only and not let past year’s performance lead to a “benefit of the doubt” ranking. In order for this to happen, we should look only at the resumes and not the team names as we compare them our evaluation criteria. So for these purposes we will use Team A and Team B.
A. “Performance on the field”: Both teams A and B are undefeated and both teams overall opponent records is combined to be just 6 games above 500. However, Team B appears to be peaking in November. Both teams have faced 2 ranked opponents in November with Team A playing the #19 and #16 teams, while Team B played #3 and #13, at the time. Team A had a +21 point differential, but Team B with a harder schedule had a +51 point differential. Making the Case for Team B.
B. “Conference championships”: While this factor really impacts the final ranking, it should be noted that Team B has already won their division with two games remaining. Team A still has work to do and could possibly not win their division.
C. “Strength of schedule”: SOS is defined as how hard of a schedule a team played based on the perspective of an average FBS team. Using this metric, Team A’s SOS is 38 and Team B’s is 21. In addition, you can also compare the team’s Strength of Record (SOR) which measures the chance an average Top 25 team would have the same record. Team B wins again coming in at #1 while Team A is #2.
D. “Head-to-head results”: N/A
E. “Comparison of results against common opponents”: These teams have only played one common opponent in the Florida State Seminoles. Team A played them in the first game of the season with a plus 17 margin and Team B won with a plus 4 margin. Team A wins this category.
If you haven’t noticed, Team A is the Tide and Team B is the Canes. Based on a head-to-head comparison of our own criteria, the Canes won 3 of the 4 categories. When you break it down, all the on the field data has the Canes at #1.
Why Miami should be #2 - Derek Acosta
Coming off one of the most impressive wins of the season in college football, Miami has set themselves up to enter the playoff picture.
I think without a doubt this is the statement win that we have been waiting for, and boy did Miami deliver. They made #3 Notre Dame look like an unranked team, despite how impressive they have looked against the rest of their opponents. Despite the Irish being one of the most impressive running teams in the nation, the Miami front 7 completely shut them out allowing only 109 rushing yards. Travis Homer alone out rushed the Irish 146 to 109. Miami proved that they have one of the top defenses in the nation, shutting out the #3 ranked team in the first half.
Miami showed that they are arguably the best team in the NCAA, and we will reward them as such. But it is not enough to overtake Alabama at #1. I think Miami should get the nod over Clemson due to Clemson having 1 loss and a weaker resume than Miami.
The biggest hurdle for Miami will be jumping Oklahoma in the rankings. The Sooners have the Heisman favorite, Baker Mayfield, and we have shown before that we will favor a team with a star player leading the way. I think their loss to Iowa State at home and their swiss cheese defense will gives Miami the edge, though.
While Miami still might need a little more to overtake Alabama, they have clearly established themselves as National Championship contenders. While the team and the city feel that Miami deserves #1, we will settle for placing Miami at #2.
Why Miami should be #3 - Stefan Adams
Miami is safely within the top 4 of the College Football Playoff. It’s simple: they were #7 last week and three teams ahead of them lost (#1 Georgia, #3 Notre Dame, #6 TCU). The only team even possibly in line to jump them is #8 Wisconsin, and while they had a solid win over #20 Iowa last week, that doesn’t even come close to the level of UM’s blowout of #3 Notre Dame.
Now that we’ve established Miami in the top 4, let’s sort out 1-4. Undefeated Alabama will be a shoo-in to take over the #1 post in the rankings after Georgia’s loss because they were #2 and because they are Alabama *whole room nods head approvingly*. 1-loss Oklahoma has the best resume in the nation; they have double-digit road wins over Ohio State and Oklahoma State and rolled over #6 TCU this weekend. Their one loss to Iowa State (a four-loss team) is slightly concerning, but we have shown we will excuse a loss if a team has enough marquee wins. Therefore, the Sooners should be #2. So, who winds up at #3 and #4?
The argument really comes down to Miami or Clemson for #3 and I think Clemson should not seriously be in the debate. The only reason the undefeated Canes were behind 1-loss Clemson to begin with is because, unlike Clemson, Miami had a pretty weak first seven opponents, and were placed in a bit of “wait-and-see” limbo; everyone wanted to see some big wins out of UM.
Well, after easily dispatching of #13 Virginia Tech and #3 Notre Dame, a team we previously loved, now everyone has seen. There’s no denying Clemson, with close wins over Auburn and N.C. State, plus a comfortable win over VT, is a playoff team at this point. But Miami has the best win between the two teams by completely dominating ND in every phase of the game last week, while Clemson has a terrible loss to now six (six!) loss Syracuse that looks worse by the week, a team Miami also beat by the way.
We previously gave Clemson a pass for the Syracuse loss because it was on the road by three points, starting QB Kelly Bryant missed the second half of that game, and the Tigers had a good overall resume, while the Canes had a weak one. But now that Miami’s resume is comparable with Clemson’s, that loss can no longer be excused. Miami is the clear #3 team in the country.
Why Miami should be #4 - Matt Washington
There’s no doubt that the ’Canes will be firmly entrenched in the Top Four of College Football Playoff Rankings. The only aspect in question is: where they will be placed?
Number one continues to be the Alabama Crimson Tide. Last week was the closest game of the season for the Tide, surviving a road game at Mississippi State 31–24. Aside from that, the team has been dominant throughout the season. We’ll see if the Tide can hold on to the top spot when they head to Jordan–Hare Stadium in two weeks.
Oklahoma jumps to number two in the rankings because they currently have wins against three-ranked opponents (Ohio State, OK State, TCU). The Sooners have been lighting up the scoreboard with 220 points since their loss to Iowa State. With a potential Heisman contender in QB Baker Mayfield on the roster, I like the Sooners to run the table and win the Big 12 in shootout fashion.
Number three is the ranking that gave me the most hesitation over. In the end, we’re putting Clemson ahead of Miami based on how impressive head coach Dabo Swinney has the Tigers playing all season. With Auburn dismantling former number one seed Georgia last weekend, Clemson’s victory over those other Tigers looks more impressive. When you analyze Clemson and Miami’s common opponents (VT, GT, FSU), the Tigers have a larger margin of victory over those three opponents with an average of 19.6 points to Miami’s 7.6 points. Clemson’s only loss of the season came in a game where they lost QB Kelly Bryant early in the game, losing by just three points on the road. I believe that if Bryant plays the entire game we’re talking about two undefeated ACC squads meeting in Charlotte come December.
Coming off of dominant back-to-back wins against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Miami is fourth in the rankings, flexing its muscles against opponents that were considered playoff contenders. Miami outscored both opponents by a combined score of 69–18. The Hurricanes continue to ride the nation’s longest win streak, now at 14 games, dating back to last November. Mark Richt has found his rhythm as a playcaller on offense, while defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has the defense playing championship ball.
The last two weeks have been statement victories for The U, however those slim victory margins against lesser opponents earlier in the season are worrisome. It will be intriguing to see if Miami can keep their foot on the throttle these next two weeks before a play-in game with Clemson to decide who represents the ACC in the CFB playoff.
Why Miami should be #5 - John Reynolds
Miami came off one of the most impressive wins of the season last week. Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, we look at the whole body of work of any given team.
While Miami beat two Top 15 teams by a combined score of 69-18 in the last two weeks, their wins before that were not all that impressive. A 24-20 win vs FSU, a 25-24 win over GT, a 27-19 win over Syracuse, and a 24-19 win over UNC do not exactly strike awe in the eyes of the committee.
Let’s take a look at the teams that would be ahead of Miami in this scenario:
#1: Alabama Crimson Tide
It would be impossible to put anyone else at this spot in this scenario, the Tide keep on rolling, despite a plethora of injuries, especially in the LB corps.
#2: Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma sports maybe the best unit on either side of the ball in the country, as their offense has the ability to score on nearly any play; the Sooners are also led by Heisman frontrunner Baker Mayfield. The Sooners’ defense leaves much to be desired, but the offense can bail them out of almost any jam.
#3: Clemson Tigers
Clemson has struggled at times this season, most notably in their loss against Syracuse. It seems that when QB Kelly Bryant is out or is not playing well, nobody else on the offense can make a play. However, on the other side of the ball, Clemson sports one of the best defenses in the nation. The Tigers’ defense plays as a coherent group, and Clemson’s defensive line is easily one of the best, if not the best, unit in the entire country.
#4 Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin is helped by our philosophy of looking at the whole body of work of a particular team. The Badgers have, for the most part, dominated teams. The Badgers were also aided by their blowout win over the Iowa Hawkeyes this past weekend, as they blew them out after Iowa had just done the same to Ohio State. Wisconsin is undoubtedly the team that most benefits from the eye test. However they haven’t really faced a true challenge yet, but their whole body of work puts them just ahead of the Hurricanes in this scenario.
This comes down to how much the past two weeks have erased the four before them. In my opinion, it’s about the full resume not just two weeks, which makes Miami the perfect fit at #5.
Why Miami should be #6 - Cam Underwood
Alright, ladies and gentlemen, time for a dose of reality. These other arguments I’ve heard from around the CFP table are fine, but most lack accuracy or reality. I’m going to bring you back to earth, and the only thing you’ll be able to say is “wow. You’re right, Cam.”
I’m going to be honest with you here: Miami is good. They played well the last 2 weeks, when their schedule increased in difficulty with CFP ranked teams (#13 Virginia Tech and #3 Notre Dame), and the Canes passed those tests with flying colors.
Entering the weekend 7th in the CFP rankings, Miami had the chance to show the world and this entire committee that they were a dominant team, and move up in the rankings. And they did just that.
And I’m ranking them 6th.
Miami’s biggest wins, VT and ND, were against flawed teams. Both of those outfits were unable to throw the ball, and the run games faltered because of personnel issues and maybe a bit of bad coaching. Also, VT and ND gave the ball to Miami a total of 8 times, which is super lucky, and unsustainable. Miami was the beneficiary of that INCREDIBLE turnover luck, and that’s the only reason they were able to win those games by the margins they did.
If you go back in their schedule, Miami still hasn’t played a good team all year. Toledo got blown out by Ohio — not Ohio State, OHIO. Duke is 4-6, on a 6 game losing streak and could very well end the year 4-8. Same thing for Syracuse (the record and outlook, just not the losing streak). Florida State is part of the 3-6 mafia. Georgia Tech is 5-4 and has a game against a good team, Georgia, coming up. Miami gave up 13 points to Bethune Cookman in the opener, which is terrible to see against an FCS team. Miami barely escaped against an objectively bad 2-8 North Carolina team. And, Miami ran from the best opponent on their schedule, Arkansas State, because they were scared and didn’t want to lose to a better team.
What part of that previous paragraph makes you think Miami should be higher than 6th? Nothing. Exactly.
Sure, Miami is undefeated. Sure, the scene at Hard Rock Stadium was electric on Saturday night. Sure, The Canes are ACC Coastal Division Champions. But they haven’t played anybody good, not even VT or ND because the game result against Miami proves those teams are not worth our consideration.
Ahead of Miami are good teams: #1 Alabama, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Clemson, #4 Wisconsin, and #5 Georgia. Those teams have the pedigree and performance that Miami doesn’t. They all have great wins, and even their losses were good losses (or lucky wins by the opposition).
Miami just doesn’t feel like a top CFP team to me. I thought that VT and ND would be worthy tests, but they played so badly that Miami didn’t even have to do anything to get those wins.
Maybe if Miami wins the rest of their games, including the ACC Championship Game against Clemson, I’ll move them up.
But, even if they’re undefeated, I don’t think Miami would really be a top 4 team. Maybe, but I doubt it.
That’s what our SOTU mock committee had to say. Who do you agree with? Vote in the poll and hop in the comments below.
Which SOTU mock committee member has it right?
This poll is closed
Donovan Hutchins (#1)
Derek Acosta (#2)
Stefan Adams (#3)
Matt Washington (#4)
John Reynolds (#5)
Cam Underwood (#6)