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Miami Lost to Pitt & It Doesn’t Matter

By Jim Johnson
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Nothing is different for Miami. The Hurricanes are in the exact same situation they were in yesterday.

First off, it’s worth crediting Pitt for absolutely handling unbeaten, second-ranked Miami in almost every facet of the game and continuing to grow its reputation as a giant killer.

In fact, according to the great Matt Smith, Pat Narduzzi has now won three consecutive games against teams that are ranked #2, going back to the 2013 Big Ten Championship.

The Panthers went in with a solid gameplan and executed it, across the board.

Entering the contest, Miami had lost the time of possession battle in all but one of their four one-score games. In those four games, the average TOP disparity was just shy of five minutes. Pittsburgh took it to a new level, keeping the ball for 13 minutes longer than the Hurricanes, the largest gulf of the season.

Miami went into the game with one of the most explosive offenses in college football averaging 1.42 equivalent points per successful play, the sixth highest mark in the country. They were racking up 15.6 plays of 10+ yards per game. Pitt held Miami to eight.

This time a couple of weeks ago, Miami had a very reasonable claim to the title of best pass defense in college football. It didn’t have the best pass rush or the most lockdown secondary, but as a unit, it was up there.

Today, Pittsburgh dominated in the trenches, allowing just one QB hurry on 39 drop backs to a team that was 8th in opponent adjusted sack rate. Freshman Kenny Pickett also kept from turning the ball over to a the national leader in interceptions per game, while completing 8% more of his passes than the Canes have allowed on average.

However, regardless of how or why it happened, Miami fell to Pittsburgh and that is a bad loss.

That being said, nothing is different for Miami. The Hurricanes are in the exact same situation they were in yesterday. Frankly, they might be in a little better spot.

Sure, if Wisconsin and Oklahoma win out, while Alabama beats Auburn but loses to Georgia in the SEC Championship, there might be a debate between Miami and the Crimson Tide. That scenario feels wildly unlikely.

Pragmatically speaking, if Miami beats Clemson for the ACC title, the ‘Canes will be in the College Football Playoff, just like they would have been, had they beat Pitt. If Miami loses to Clemson, they won’t get in the playoff, just like they wouldn’t have been, had they beat Pitt.

From a mathematical standpoint, Miami is probably even in a better position to get past Clemson, now that it has that ever-so-important loss. The football gods don’t like it when teams go undefeated -- it’s unnatural. They demand a tribute in the form of an ‘L’. Fans don’t want to hear it, but it truly is a matter of when, not if, college football teams will lose, and that’s okay. It’s just important to lose the right games. The odds of previously undefeated Miami losing two in a row are probably much lower than those of a team with college football’s longest win streak remaining unbeaten against the defending national champions.

Miami is probably still a year off from being a genuine national title contender. On Thanksgiving, when they were 10-0, they were still probably a year off from being a genuine national title contender.

Miami is a win over Clemson away from making the College Football Playoff. Six hours ago, Miami was still a Clemson win (and a Clemson win only) away from making the College Football Playoff.

No, it isn’t fun to acknowledge that the #2 ranked team in the country losing to a 4-7 team during rivalry week doesn’t matter.

Still, the fact is, Miami lost to Pitt and nothing of any consequence is different.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP