Miami football seeded second in virtual ESPN College Football Playoff

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19: (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19: (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Miami football team is seeded second in the East Region in the ESPN virtual College Football Playoff. Miami finished 8-3 during the 2020 season and returns 19 starters. The return of quarterback D’Eriq King inspired other Hurricanes to return for the 2021 season. Miami loses four key players.

Defensive ends Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche, kicker Jose Borregales and tight end Brevin Jordan all declared for the 2022 NFL Draft. The NCAA froze eligibility for athletes during the 2020-21 school year. That allowed seniors and redshirt seniors like King to return for the 2021 season.

Miami received the second seed in the East as a result of their ranking in the ESPN SP+ rankings. The Hurricanes are slated against Missouri in the first round and would play the winner of Auburn and Boise State with a win. College football has 130 Football Bowl Division teams compared to 350 Division I college basketball teams.

With just over a third of the teams in college football compared to college basketball, cinderellas like 16 seed Maryland Baltimore County who upset number one seed, Virginia, in the 2018 NCAA Tournament are diminished. Only 13 of the 64 teams in the ESPN virtual College Football Playoff come from the Group of Five conferences.

The 13 non-power five teams also include Brigham Young who is an independent. The only independent who is a Power Five school is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish return to independent status for the 2021 season after winning the ACC regular-season title in 2020. ESPN only simulated the first two rounds.

Miami opens with Missouri who finished 5-5 in their first season under Eli Drinkwitz. The Tigers’ mediocre record is illustrated by finishing 59th in total offense and 66th in total defense in 2020. Miami was 32nd in total offense and 66th in total defense in 2020. The Hurricanes now have an offense built for high-scoring games.

"(2) Miami 35, (15) Missouri 16: Manny Diaz, in his third season as Miami’s coach, has a team that’s both talented and experienced, and the Hurricanes waste no time in putting away the Tigers early in a lopsided first-round matchup."

ESPN did not elaborate how the Miami football team earned their virtual win over Missouri. When Miami was successful in 2020, King had a big game. Some teams were able to limit King on the ground and others through the air, but when the Hurricanes were successful in 2020 the formula was via their QB.

"(2) Miami 30, (10) Boise State 21: Miami quarterback D’Eriq King rehabilitated like a champ in the offseason after tearing his ACL a year ago in the bowl game. He plays like a champ against Boise State and completes passes to seven different players in leading the Canes into the Sweet 16."

Boise State defeated their former head coach Bryan Harsin who left the Broncos to take over the Tigers during the 2021 offseason. The Broncos are one of the Group of Five teams as a member of the Mountain West Conference. King completing passes to seven different receivers would make Miami difficult to defeat.

The Miami football team primarily used five receivers in 2020. Jordan and fellow TE Will Mallory plus wide receivers Mike Harley, Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins. Pope and Wiggins will be pushed for playing time in 2021 by likely starter, Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo plus five returnees and three 2021 signees.

Miami safety Bubba Bolden focused on Alabama. dark. Next

Miami has a lot of room for growth in 2021 after their first season learning the Rhett Lashlee offense. King returns all of the skill players to complement him in the Miami offense except Jordan. Mallory should have a breakout season with Jordan deciding to move on. Miami plays Texas in the regional semifinal.