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No margin for error this year for the Miami Hurricanes

The Canes walk a razor’s edge in the court of public opinion and CFP rankings

Notre Dame v Miami
The circumstances surrounding the Hurricanes’ season closely mirrors another football team you’ve heard of
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

You’ve probably seen this by now, but the College Football Playoff committee ranked Miami 3rd this week behind Alabama and Clemson.

Alabama is Alabama and they’re undefeated and were previously ranked 2nd behind Georgia, so it stands to reason that they would ascend to the top spot. I find it funny, however, that Alabama’s close win — a last second TD to beat Mississippi State — was met with talk of “championship caliber” and “tough, team win” and “sometimes you just have to win a close game”. When it was Miami winning close games, the narrative was different. I said if (when) Alabama won closely, the conversation surrounding that game would be different for them than it was for us, and that was IMMEDIATELY proven to be correct.

My point of contention with the rankings is Clemson being ahead of Miami. No matter what metric or statistic or narrative you bring up for Clemson to be ranked over Miami, there’s one piece of unassailable fact that ruins all of that talk:


But hey, those things don’t matter apparently.

Unless you’re Miami.

While Clemson and Oklahoma and Georgia are highly ranked 1 loss teams, and TCU, Auburn, Penn State and Ohio State are highly ranked 2 loss teams (Notre Dame is too but we smashed them so they’re not in this conversation), all those teams have done something Miami hasn’t: Lose.

While all those teams have lost games (some of them multiple games), the CFP committee still ranked them highly for a variety of reasons. That’s fine, because there are only 4 undefeated teams at current, so some 1 and 2 loss teams will be highly ranked.

That being said, I do not see the committee extending the same courtesy to Miami should the Hurricanes lose any of their remaining games.

I said this on Twitter recently, and I think the analogy rings true. This year’s Miami Hurricanes are being held to a similar standard by the CFP committees as the T.C. Williams Titans were from the school administration in Remember The Titans:

Win every game, and things are fine.

Lose a game, ANY GAME, by any margin, and you’re out.

For Denzel Washington’s character in Remember The Titans, that statement was made because of the whole integration thing. For the Hurricanes, the statement — which has been implied by the CFP’s rankings but not overtly stated, to be fair — is because this program has gone more than a decade since winning 10 games and being in national conversation for winning. No matter the reason, the rules of engagement for clear.

While Clemson can lose to an objectively bad Syracuse Orange team (currently 4-6 and likely to miss a bowl — and a team Miami beaat) and overcome it based on narrative, excuses, and cache — I mean, they ARE the defending National Champions — Miami will get no such kindness.

With games against the Virginia Cavaliers, Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, and the aforementioned Clemson Tigers remaining on the schedule before the College Football Playoff is finalized, Miami will need to win every game to have a chance at winning a National Championship.

I don’t see any scenario where both Clemson and Miami reach the CFP. Should Miami beat Clemson in the ACC Championship game, the 2-loss Tigers would drop out (teams who lose to Miami fall like a ROCK in the court of public opinion, and the polls, because nobody believes Miami is actually good). Conversely, if Miami loses, well, we talked about that already. Even a close loss to Clemson in the ACCCG would eliminate the Canes from CFP contention, in my opinion.

So the path for Miami is clear: remain undefeated through the regular season, including a win over Clemson in the ACCCG, or miss the the College Football Playoff.

Challenge: accepted.

Go Canes