What Miami’s loss means for the College Football Playoff

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The top four remained the same as rivalry weekend and the conference championship games begin to loom large.
Time_Sports

Black Friday had no special deals in store for the Miami Hurricanes.

Unranked Pittsburgh played giant killer for the second time in as many years Friday, knocking off previously undefeated and No. 2 Miami 24-14 and putting the Hurricanes’ College Football Playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

Last year the Panthers upset a 9-0 and third-ranked Clemson team, 43-42. Clemson recovered and reeled off five consecutive victories en route to the national championship.

The Hurricanes (11-1) may not be afforded a similar opportunity.

Clemson lost in Week 10, which still gave the Tigers a chance to knock off Wake Forest, South Carolina and a Top 25 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson also benefitted from having four other Top 10 teams lose on that same Saturday, which cushioned the Tigers’ drop in the polls.

Miami’s loss came in the final week of the regular season, which is typically a death knell to lofty postseason aspirations. Next up? A date against Clemson (10-1) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Charlotte.

With a loss this late in the season, a lot of upsets would have to unfold to keep the Hurricanes in the College Football Playoff conversation, beginning with a win against Clemson.

Depending on what unfolds in rivalry games on Saturday, Miami could make a precipitous drop in the playoff rankings, most certainly winding up below Clemson, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, and perhaps even Auburn and Georgia.

Miami has been somewhat of an enigma this season, winning several close games against unranked opponents (Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina), then posting impressive wins against ranked foes Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

But few pundits predicted a loss for Miami against Pittsburgh (6-7) on Friday; the Hurricanes entered the game as 14-point favorites.

Clemson will wrap up its regular season Saturday night at South Carolina (8-3). The Tigers are 13.5-point favorites in the rivalry showdown, which Clemson is hoping to win for a fourth consecutive year.

This much is certain: Whatever Clemson’s outcome on Saturday, the Hurricanes would like nothing more than to play spoiler against the Tigers on Dec. 2, with an Orange Bowl berth among the potential outcomes, if not more.

Clemson will be playing in the ACC Championship Game for a fifth time. Miami is making its first ACC Championship game appearance in 13 years. It will be the first meeting between the teams since Clemson routed the Hurricanes 58-0 midway through the 2015 season.

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