If the University of Miami beats Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Saturday in Charlotte, the Hurricanes likely would be in the four-team College Football Playoff, for reasons we explain here.
But what happens if UM loses?
The Hurricanes, in that scenario, would very, very likely play in the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 from Hard Rock Stadium.
And their opponent likely would be Alabama, Georgia or Wisconsin, with an outside chance of two-loss Penn State and an even smaller chance of Auburn or Ohio State.
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▪ After the four playoff teams are announced, the OB must take the next-highest-ranked available ACC team in the final pre-bowl College Football Playoff Rankings.
If UM loses on Saturday, then Clemson would be in the playoff, and UM almost assuredly would be the next highest-ranked ACC team (ahead of Virginia Tech and North Carolina State) and thus OB-bound.
▪ UM’s opponent, in this scenario, would — by CFP rules — be the highest-ranked non-playoff team from the SEC, Big 10 or Notre Dame — unless the highest-ranked team is a conference champion from those two conferences.
The OB does not have the right to choose any non-playoff SEC or Big 10 team it chooses. It must follow the aforementioned rule.
Notre Dame, with three losses, almost assuredly would not be in the equation for an OB bid this year.
So if Georgia beats Auburn in the SEC Championship, and Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship, then the highest-ranked non-playoff team from those conferences likely would be one-loss Alabama ahead of three-loss Auburn and three-loss Ohio State and two-loss Penn State.
If Auburn beats Georgia and Wisconsin beats Ohio State, the highest-ranked non-playoff team from those conferences would probably be two-loss Georgia or one-loss Alabama instead of three-loss Ohio State or two-loss Penn State.
If Ohio State beats Wisconsin and Georgia beats Auburn, the highest-ranked non-playoff team from those conference would probably be one-loss Alabama or one-loss Wisconsin instead of three-loss Auburn or two-loss Penn State.
And if Ohio State beats Wisconsin and Auburn beats Georgia, the highest-ranked non-playoff team from those conferences would probably be a toss-up among Georgia, Wisconsin and Alabama.