College Football Playoff rankings: Miami is finally earning respect

Mark Richt, at least, claims the weekly rankings show every Tuesday don’t matter. The coach will pay attention a little bit every week – he had to this week because he made an appearance on the show. He doesn’t bring it up to his players. He won’t use it as an excuse for motivation. It’s too early in the year to worry about what number the College Football Playoff committee sticks next to Miami’s name.

Richt said perceived slights weren’t a factor Saturday when the Hurricanes earned a statement win against then-No. 13 Virginia Tech, at least not for the coaches. It didn’t come up during the week in the wider team setting. Miami knew it needed to win and that was motivation enough.

“I didn’t think anybody was disrespecting us,” Richt said after the Hurricanes’ 28-10 win at Hard Rock Stadium. “I thought if you just put your non-University of Miami hat on and look at what’s happening, I didn’t expect to be ranked real high and I didn’t care. It didn’t matter at this point.”

The Hurricanes like to play with a chip on their shoulder, though. It’s part of what makes Miami the U and if the Hurricanes do reach the College Football Playoff it will be partially because of the team’s personality.

The latest batch of College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday hint that respect is coming for Miami. The Hurricanes jumped to No. 6 from No. 10, passing one team which also won Saturday.

It’s also just not quite enough respect. Four teams with a loss still sit ahead of Miami, including No. 3 Notre Dame.

“We’ve won every game as a team and when rankings came out I wasn’t surprised because nobody wants Miami to do good,” linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said after Saturday’s win. “That’s just the way that we feel. Knowing that, we know that every week we have to perform and there’s no margin for error when it comes to Miami. On the schedule, it doesn’t matter who we play, what their schedule is or what their ranking is – we have to perform to be where we want to be.”

The Hurricanes’ playoff dreams all hinge on Saturday in Miami Gardens, Fla. A win against the Fighting Irish and we’ll be talking about the Hurricanes’ playoff chances at least until Dec. 2, when Miami is likely to square off against No. 4 Clemson in the 2017 ACC Championship Game. An unbeaten record – or even, potentially, a resume with one loss and a pair of top-15 wins – will make it impossible for the committee to overlook the Hurricanes like they did last week.

One week was all it took for Miami to earn a modicum of respect. It wasn’t just about beating the Hokies – Miami also had its first multiple-score win in more than a month. The committee’s criteria is ambiguous with phrases like “game control” or “body clock” playing a factor. Holding a ranked team to a single touchdown can fill some of the criteria. It was the sort of win which makes you forget North Carolina gave the Hurricanes a scare or that Toledo led Miami at halftime.

A win like the one against Virginia Tech can make critics forgiving.

“A lot of people doubted us coming into this game,” defensive lineman RJ McIntosh said after the win Saturday. “I think our performance tonight is going to change a couple thoughts.”

Still, a loss to the Fighting Irish would be hard to get over.

On its face, a single loss to a Top 5 team shouldn’t be crushing. A loss during the final two weeks to either Virginia or Pittsburgh would be significantly uglier, although not as crippling. Miami probably needs to leapfrog Notre Dame to crack the top 4 and a head-to-head loss at home would make it close to impossible.

“It doesn’t really matter  this Tuesday,” Richt said.  “Like I said, if we win, we’ll move up. I’m sure we’ll move up. How far? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter, because you have another one against one of the better teams in the United States. If you win, you move up. If you lose, you move down. That’s just where we’re at right now. I think the system is fine and we’re not getting too carried away with it right now – with the polls, anyway.”

The post College Football Playoff rankings: Miami is finally earning respect appeared first on Diehards.

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