Miami Hurricanes Win will keep them in CFB Playoff race, Loss Could be Devastating

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 21: Travis Homer /

With one game remaining before the College Football Playoff rankings are released the Miami Hurricanes need to defeat North Carolina to keep themselves in serious contention.

A loss to the Tar Heels could be devastating. North Carolina enters Saturday’s game against Miami with a 1-7 record. They have been devastated by injuries this season.

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Mark Richt reported UNC is missing 16 players that are out for the season. Add in an additional six players that were drafted after last season and the Tar Heels have lost virtually an entire starting team.

Clemson was able to overcome a loss to a mediocre Pittsburgh team at home last season, win out and still make the playoff. At this point, the Hurricanes program doesn’t hold as much weight as Clemson.

There has been some thought that if Miami is going to have any hope of making the playoff they are going to have to win out. That would include wins over Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and likely Clemson in the ACC championship game. If not the Tigers at the very least it’s likely to be a one-loss North Carolina State team.

If they keep winning, the Hurricanes should move up. That could come as quickly as this season’s initial College Football Playoff ranking on Tuesday.

Penn State and Ohio State who are both ranked ahead of Miami play on Saturday. Penn State enters the game undefeated. A close win by Ohio State could hurt the Hurricanes in the rankings. A Penn State win almost definitely eliminates Ohio State from playoff contention.

The winner of that game will have the inside track to representing the Big Ten East in the Big Ten Championship game. They will likely face Wisconsin who will make the title game baring an epic late-season collapse.

Also ahead of the Hurricanes are Alabama and Georgia. They appear to be on a collision course for the SEC Championship game.

The same goes with Miami and number nine Notre Dame November 11 at Hard Rock Stadium. The week prior could be decision day in the ACC. The Hurricanes host Virginia Tech and Clemson and the Wolfpack face off in a game that should decide the ACC Atlantic.

All but six teams in the top 25 have one or no losses. While fans and the media can look at what’s ahead, the teams need to focus on the immediate task at hand. Richt was asked earlier this week about when he would start preparing for Virginia Tech or Notre Dame. He acknowledged it was a good question but said:

"“If we were rolling everybody or whupping everybody by three touchdowns, no drama … if we were having that kind of a roll, maybe. But we’re just finding ways to win at the end of games. We’re not foolish enough to think we’ve arrived. They know we have to earn it.”"

The excitement is building among the Miami Hurricanes fan base. A sizable portion is being smart and taking it one game at a time.

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While the rankings are exciting and it’s great to be back in the national discussion, let’s hope the U is focused on the Tar Heels this week. Then it will be time to focus on the biggest back to back home games in over a decade.