The U is back.
According to Associated Press writer Ralph D. Russo, Miami (5-0, 3-0 ACC) has an excellent chance of not only winning the ACC Coastal Division in 2017, but an opportunity to make its first ever College Football Playoff appearance.
In his “midseason checkup” column today, Russo predicts that the Hurricanes will win the ACC to earn the No. 2 overall seed in this season’s playoffs for a first-round matchup with Ohio State. (What a treat that would be!) Alabama and Georgia also make the cut at No. 1 and 4, which would make the SEC the first conference to put multiple teams in.
Could it happen? The odds may be better than you think.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), Miami will play the 36th-most difficult remaining schedule — and it should be favored in every one of them, as it plays No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 13 Notre Dame in front of a home crowd.
That would give the Canes their first undefeated regular season since 2002 (when it lost to, well, Ohio State) and its first ACC title game appearance in school history, likely matching up with Clemson — though it’d be ignorant to not include NC State in that conversation at this point.
If Miami can beat teams like Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame, then it certainly has a very good shot at defeating whichever team shows up in the conference championship. And at 13-0, there would be no scenario where the Hurricanes are left out of the playoff. That’d be a heck of an accomplishment for second-year coach Mark Richt.
There’s still a lot of games left to be played, but it’s clearly time to start taking Miami seriously again as a legitimate contender.