The University of Miami football team, one of only four remaining undefeated Power 5 conference teams in the country, was ranked just 10th in the initial College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
Not only was Miami rated the lowest of those four major conference undefeated teams, but the Hurricanes were ranked behind six teams that have lost a game.
“Undefeated team at No. 10? Wow!” ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer said after Miami’s slot was revealed.
But UM officials aren’t concerned.
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UM athletic director Blake James said Monday there “isn’t a chance” that UM would not be invited to the four-team playoff if the Hurricanes win their remaining four regular season games and win the ACC title game.
“You look at the level of competition in the ACC, the success of programs in our league, if we were fortunate enough to be able to go [through] the league championship without losing, I have full confidence as the champions of the ACC, we would be part of the four-team playoff,” James said.
Texas Tech and former UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee chairman, was not asked about UM’s low ranking during his ESPN appearance on the made-for-TV rankings release.
But UM (7-0) clearly was penalized for winning games by narrow margins and for not beating an opponent that is currently in the top 25.
The initial poll had undefeated Georgia No. 1 and unbeaten Alabama No. 2.
The next six teams in the rankings all have one loss - in order, Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and Texas Christian.
Undefeated Wisconsin is ranked ninth, followed by Miami at No. 10.
The committee is “looking at teams that have been challenged [as opposed] to teams that haven’t been challenged like Miami and Wisconsin,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who will call Saturday’s 8 p.m. UM-Virginia Tech game with Chris Fowler on ABC.
But UM will have a chance to push up the polls if it wins its next two games - against Virginia Tech on Saturday and Notre Dame on Nov. 11.
Virginia Tech (7-1) is rated 13th, behind one-loss Oklahoma State and Washington and just ahead of two-loss Auburn and Iowa State.
Central Florida, the fifth and final undefeated team, is rated 18th.
The committee considers five factors in rankings: strength of schedule, head to head meetings, the outcome of games involving common opponents, the vague “other relevant factors” and whether the team won a conference championship (which isn’t yet applicable).
Hocutt said the committee pays no attention to the AP poll (where Miami is ranked 10th) or the coach’s poll (where UM is sixth).
The committee will release a weekly poll and then announce the playoff teams on Dec. 3, the day after several conference championship games.