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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ George Schroeder breaks down the school soccer playoff rankings.
USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier.(Photo: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports)

Each week throughout the season, the USA TODAY Sports faculty employees (Paul Myerberg, Lindsay Schnell, George Schroeder, Erick Smith, Eddie Timanus and Dan Wolken) will present their solutions to an intriguing query from faculty soccer. This week: 

Which staff in playoff competition has the hardest path?

Paul Myerberg

I believe it’s Notre Dame even when the Irish don’t have the flexibility to play in a convention championship sport. In the case of the Playoff, we’ll need to see if that’s a significant component in opposition to the Irish within the last standings. But take a look at the November schedule: Wake Forest, then at the moment unbeaten Miami (Fla.), then Navy after which Stanford. 

Ohio State doesn’t have it straightforward. Oklahoma will get Oklahoma State and TCU to start out the month. Alabama and Georgia get Auburn and doubtlessly one another. But I don’t suppose one other contender has a November fairly like Notre Dame.

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Lindsay Schnell

Well first off, I believe it’s all however badured that the Pac-12 goes to be disregarded within the chilly, which is unhealthy for that convention from a monetary standpoint. But I believe the Big 12 may be in the identical boat; it’s going to be robust for Oklahoma and/or TCU to make the leap as much as the highest 4. Yes, the Sooners have that nice win at Ohio State however that was a very long time in the past — and what occurs if/once they need to play TCU or Iowa State twice (due to the convention title sport)? The Big 12 might be going to cannibalize itself. On the plus aspect, this most likely means we’re headed for an eight-team playoff ahead of we predict. Mike Leach approves. 

George Schroeder

Here’s a trick reply to a fantastic query. Auburn has the hardest path. With two losses, the Tigers stay in competition merely due to their remaining schedule. If they win out, they’d have overwhelmed Georgia and Alabama (the groups at the moment ranked Nos. 1 and a couple of, respectively) after which Georgia once more within the SEC championship sport.

If that’s not a troublesome sufficient job, then Auburn would doubtlessly be measured in opposition to different convention champions with higher information and related victories. And that’s earlier than we discuss an 11-1 Notre Dame with a troublesome schedule.

Erick Smith

Miami (Fla.) has emerged as one in every of simply 4 main unbeaten groups left standing. Yet, the Hurricanes are solely No. 10 within the preliminary College Football Playoff rankings due to a weak schedule and too many shut wins in opposition to inferior competitors. Though the snub may appear unfair, think about their finest win most likely is Toledo. Strength of schedule gained’t be an issue going ahead. Virginia Tech and Notre Dame go to South Florida within the subsequent two weeks.

If Miami can someway survive these two video games, there’s a doubtless matchup in opposition to Clemson within the ACC title sport. That’s three groups within the prime 15, together with two within the prime 4. Other groups might have comparable scheduled, however you even have to think about the Hurricanes are most likely the weakest of the remaining contenders, making their gauntlet rather more troublesome than the others. On the intense aspect, efficiently making it by way of (irrespective of how shut the wins) would go away little doubt about their participation within the College Football Playoff.

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts. (Photo: Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports)

Eddie Timanus

This goes to sound loopy, however the reply is Alabama.

Make no mistake. The Crimson Tide shall be favored in all their remaining video games. But their ending stretch within the SEC has loads of potential traps if they need to occur to have a uncommon off day. Their last league dwelling sport is Saturday in opposition to LSU, which has pulled itself off the deck. The Tide should then go to Mississippi State and Auburn, each of whom are additionally ranked, earlier than a probable showdown with Georgia within the SEC title sport. That’s a tougher last month than anybody else has to barter.

Dan Wolken

For Miami to get to the playoff, the Hurricanes must beat three of the highest 13 groups within the College Football Playoff choice committee’s first set of rankings. In different phrases, they will very a lot have earned it if they will pull this off. The excellent news for Miami is not one of the three could be on the highway. The unhealthy information is, it is exhausting to ascertain this staff beating Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Clemson over the subsequent 5 Saturdays.

Miami has been hanging onto its undefeated file by the thinnest of margins, beating Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina by a mixed 18 factors in its final 4 video games. On the opposite hand, for those who squint exhausting sufficient, perhaps this Miami staff will prove like Auburn in 2013, which was barely hanging within the race however became a monster down the stretch. Obviously, if Miami finishes off an undefeated run to the ACC title, they’re getting within the playoff. And if they will someway win two large dwelling video games, then defeat Clemson for the ACC title, it will not even be an argument.