The Miami Hurricanes have put themselves in position to make a run to the ACC Championship Game.
At the halfway mark of the ACC season, Miami is one of four teams in the league with zero or one conference loss.
Some movement in the standings after yesterday's games!— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) October 25, 2020
: Standings are based on conference win percentages. pic.twitter.com/DcraFKXQlQ
The Hurricanes technically sit in third place today by virtue of having the tiebreaker over North Carolina. Miami defeated Florida State 52-10 in late September while North Carolina lost to the Seminoles 31-28 on October 17.
Miami did not play its best football during the month of October. The Hurricanes have struggled to run the ball as effectively as they did in September and have had depth issues at multiple positions because of unavailability.
But despite the issues, the Hurricanes finished the month 2-1, with wins over Pittsburgh and Virginia. The loss came to top-ranked Clemson, who has not lost an ACC game since 2017.
Miami has four ACC games in November and one in December. Miami is ranked higher than every remaining opponent in the Associated Press poll and could be favored in all five games after Virginia Tech lost to Wake Forest on Saturday.
Regardless of the point spread, the Hurricanes have a legitimate chance to win every game left on the schedule. If Miami can somehow do that, there is a reasonable path to earn a rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
- Miami wins out. This would obviously include defeating North Carolina at Hard Rock Stadium on December 5.
- Clemson wins out. This would include a victory over Notre Dame on November 7. Clemson is currently favored by 14.5 points in that game according to Draftkings, despite the game being in South Bend.
- North Carolina defeats Notre Dame on November 27. This is a Friday night game in Chapel Hill that comes in the midst of nine consecutive weeks of games for the Fighting Irish. It is possible that Sam Howell and company win this game at home.
The above scenario would leave Clemson at 10-0 in ACC play and Miami at 9-1. All other league teams would have two or more losses.
What Miami needs most is Notre Dame to start losing. Clemson should hand the Fighting Irish their first loss on November 7.
If UNC fails to give Notre Dame its second loss, it might be tough to find another opportunity to deal the Fighting Irish that loss as their remaining games are Georgia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
If Miami and Notre Dame both finish the ACC season at 9-1, it would come down to ACC tiebreakers to see who represents the conference in the championship game.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald took a detailed look at the ACC’s tiebreakers earlier this year.
There are too many games left to be played to project how Miami would rank against Notre Dame in the ACC’s tiebreakers in that situation since the Hurricanes and Fighting Irish would both have lost to Clemson and beaten North Carolina.
While Miami did not play up to its potential in the month of October, it has played well enough to be in a position to make a run to the ACC title game in the second half of the season.