UM slotted one spot behind one-loss Clemson
Miami moves up to No. 3 in playoff rankings.
CORAL GABLES – All season long, after every win, the Miami Hurricanes have stressed they aren’t paying much attention to their ascent in the national rankings. As long as they keep winning, they say, things will continue taking care of themselves.
But it’d be hard to fault the Hurricanes if they weren’t at least a little bit proud of their latest accomplishment, another first for the surging program. It would also be hard to fault them if they felt a little miffed, too.
After its dominating 41-8 win over then third-ranked Notre Dame, UM rose four spots to No. 3 in the latest College Foot- ball Playoff rankings announced Tuesday night. It’s the first time the Hurricanes (9-0) have earned one of the coveted top four spots that would put them in a national semifinal were the season to end now.
But Miami — which has won 14 straight and hasn’t lost this season — was one spot behind one-loss Clemson in the top four. Adding a little bit more potential fuel to that fire? Clemson’s loss was to a Syracuse team the Hurricanes beat 27-19 in October.
Rounding out the top four were Alabama at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 4. Georgia and Notre Dame, both of whom were in the top four last week and lost, fell to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.
“There was tremendous debate between No. 2 Clemson
and No. 3 Miami,” said College Football Playoff Selection Committee Chair Kirby Hocutt, who briefly served as Miami’s athletic director.
“They’re two teams that look very similar. Both are playing elite defense. … Very close separation between those two teams. I think what gave Clemson the edge this week over a Miami team that has really impressed us the last two weeks was the [Tigers’] win against Auburn. [Clemson] has two road victories that are very impressive to the committee. Miami has not played a winning team on the road yet. And that’s something that has given Clemson a slight edge this week, their performance on the road. … Clemson’s resume they put together with six wins over teams with winning records is the most of any team in our top 25 rankings this week.”
As exciting as it may be to think about the possibility of Miami playing for the sixth national championship in program history, the Hurricanes understand there is still plenty of work to be done, starting Saturday with their regularseason home finale against Virginia.
That’s one of the reasons more than a few of them — including coach Mark Richt — said they probably weren’t going to be watching as the new rankings were unveiled.
“I doubt I’m going to watch the show,” Richt said earlier in the day. “But I will know what it is. I would have to say that we’ve moved up, like I figured we would if we won. No matter where we are, if we keep winning, we’ll stay up, maybe move up [higher]. Obviously if we lose, we’ll go down. There’s at least three more games, I guess, before everything is decided. We have a long way to go yet.”
Added defensive end Joe Jackson, “Me, myself personally, I really don’t care. And as a defense, I think we don’t care at all. I can’t really say for the whole team. We know we’re going be top four or whatever, but we’re just focused on winning. We’re taking it each game at a time and so when that happens, it happens. But we have to finish the season right so we can still have that chance in the end.”
For Miami, things have changed a bit since their win over Notre Dame.
Many of the national college football pundits that criticized the Hurricanes for winning four games in October by a combined 18 points, have now started singing Miami’s praises.
And after years of chasing some of the top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Hurricanes — who clinched their first Coastal Division crown last weekend — understand they’re now a target for upset-minded teams like the Cavaliers (6-4) and Pittsburgh, whom they’ll face on the Panthers’ home field on Nov. 24.
After that, the Hurricanes will have to contend with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Charlotte.
If Miami is to keep its playoff hopes alive, they’ll have to keep on winning. That’s why while Tuesday night’s CFP rankings may have made them proud for a moment, there will be no dwelling on their latest accomplishment.
There may, though, be some mention of the fact Hurricanes — who have thrived on being doubted this season — were ranked behind Clemson, who is already the favorite in the ACC Championship Game.
University of Miami players have a reason to celebrate as they moved up four spots and into the football playoff, for now. Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma round out the other three spots.