Miami, Clemson switch spots in latest College Football Playoff rankings

Miami, which moved up to No. 2, puts its undefeated record on the line Friday against Pitt.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

And here we thought a weekend free of any landscape-shaking upsets would give us a drama-free College Football Playoff rankings release.

But after putting Clemson ahead of unbeaten Miami last week, the selection committee shifted course, putting the Hurricanes at No. 2 and the Tiger at No. 3 and strengthening the notion of two ACC teams making the playoff with with Tuesday’s release of the group’s fourth Top 25 poll.

“The committee took note of Miami’s increasingly impressive body of work, its unbeaten record, and it made the Hurricanes No. 2 by a very close margin over No. 3 Clemson,” said committee chairman Kirby Hocutt.

Miami (10-0), trails only fellow unbeaten Alabama, with Oklahoma fourth and 11-0 Wisconsin is fifth. Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State round out the Top 10, with No. 25 Virginia Tech the only other ACC team in the rankings.

It would seem to be a strange message one week after saying the Tigers deserved to be No. 2 on the strength of having six wins over teams with winning records. All Clemson did was go out and dominate The Citadel 61-3 and pad a resume that including being fourth in Strength of Record and Game Control and 11th in Strength of Schedule, but their body of work did take a hit with a win over then-No. 20 NC State losing some luster as the Wolfpack fell to unranked Wake Forest.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes, who lead the nation in Strength of Record, moved up after a 44-28 win over Virginia. Miami had a case to be No. 2 a week ago, but instead were left chasing the Tigers after back-to-back Top 25-wins.

This week, Hocutt said Miami was getting credit for keeping that unbeaten record intact.

“They have shown progress, especially in these last three weeks,” Hocutt said. “These last three weeks they’ve impressed the Selection Committee. They continue to protect that undefeated record.”

Miami and Clemson will meet in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Charlotte, and while that game has the potential to send the winner to the playoff, it could lead to more. With the Hurricanes at No. 2, there’s a small chance that a narrow loss to the Tigers could see both teams reach the field of four, although that would mean some help in the form of upsets in either the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12.

First, though, the Hurricanes face Pitt on Friday and Clemson takes on South Carolina on Saturday.

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.