ACC's margin of error narrows considerably as No. 2 Miami stumbles at Pitt

Last season, a loss to Pitt didn't keep theeventual ACC champion from making it to the College Football Playoff. Miami is now left hoping it can repeat history.

The second-ranked Hurricanes were dealt a stunning first defeat at the hands of the previously four-win Panthers, losing 24-14 Saturday in Heinz Field.

While the Hurricanes are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Clemson, which lost to Pitt last November and still claimed a national championship, the reality is the conference just narrowed its margin of error heading into championship weekend.


When Miami and No. 3 Clemson meet Dec. 2 in Charlotte in the ACC Championship Game, it's set up to be a de facto national quarterfinalwith the winner likely stamping a ticket the playoff.That's still the storyline for the Hurricanes, who broke out the Turnover Chain twice, but thePanthers rode a touchdown through the air and two on the ground from freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett to pull off the shocker. But there'sstill the matter of the Tigers taking on No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday in Columbia.

If the Gamecocks follow suit and knock off their in-state rival, a two-loss Clemson as ACC champ may not be guaranteed of that spot in the playoff.

That could make for some nail-biting in the conference commissioner's office should the Tigers repeat as conference champs.

Although, this may wind up a beauty contest, with the potential that Auburn (SEC), Ohio State (Big Ten) or TCU (Big 12) could all wind up as two-loss Power 5 champs with cases why they should make the field of four.

Sound insane? Maybe, but this weekend just got a whole lot more interesting as the ACC is one more upset from putting its playoff streak in jeopardy.

And to think, a a few hours ago, there was an outside shot that the conference could be the first with a real argument to get two teams into the CFP.

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.