From the Rivals corner: Inside Miami's embarrassing upset, Utah's opening and more

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Each week, we’ll talk to our reporters on the ground to get their thoughts on the biggest happenings during the college football season. This week, we check in with Miami after a disastrous loss to crosstown foe Florida International, look at Utah’s playoff chances and visit Alabama after an impressive performance by fill-in quarterback Mac Jones.

Miami’s ugly outing

While Arizona State’s upset of Oregon was the biggest story on Saturday because of its implications on the national championship picture, the most embarrassing loss of week might have been in South Florida. Florida International stunned Miami in a game played at Marlins Park, the same grounds where the famed Orange Bowl once stood. While the final score was close, FIU was in control for the entire game and beat the Hurricanes with numerous players Miami overlooked during the recruiting process. So just how bad was the loss for Miami? And how might it impact recruiting and the Manny Diaz tenure as a whole?

Miami Hurricanes running back Cam'Ron Harris (23) is tackled by FIU Golden Panthers defensive back Olin Cushion (1) during the first half. (USA Today)
Miami Hurricanes running back Cam'Ron Harris (23) is tackled by FIU Golden Panthers defensive back Olin Cushion (1) during the first half. (USA Today)

We checked in with’s Gary Furman to get his thoughts.

“The loss to FIU was devastating because Miami thought it was building momentum with a three-game win streak, a few recruiting wins and impending recruiting wins and even the possibility of getting invited to the Orange Bowl. Now it has to muster up the interest to go play at an at least half-empty stadium at Duke next week and then a lower-tier bowl game. That won't be easy at all. I am not sure how the loss will impact recruiting. Most kids are pretty locked in on where they are going right now. But I can’t imagine it will help their efforts to land an elite talent like Justin Flowe. Manny Diaz won't get fired for this, but it certainly will make his job even more difficult than it already was.”


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It’s all about the Utes

Utah steamrolled to another easy victory, running its Pac-12 record to 8-1 and putting the Utes firmly in control of their own destiny in the conference. If the Utes win this week against Colorado, they will head to the Pac-12 championship game for a matchup against Oregon. While the Ducks’ loss on Saturday might have taken away some of the buildup heading into that game, it also put Utah squarely in the national spotlight. So how are the Utes going to handle their time on centerstage? And does Oregon’s loss help or hurt their playoff chances?

We checked in with’s Alex Markham to get his thoughts.

“You had one job, Oregon! The Ducks’ loss is unfortunate for Utah and the Pac-12, but it’s not devastating. Utah will need to beat Oregon convincingly in the conference championship game, but it’s definitely realistic. The Utes rank No. 3 and No. 20 in total defense and offense, respectively, so they’re flat-out dominant in all areas. Count on the Georgia offense to at least give them one more loss and Bama isn’t going to their conference championship game. So ... let that argument begin. The Utes just need to win out and they’ll be tough to turn down. No team should realistically jump them, especially Oklahoma. The Ducks’ loss diminishes the spotlight on the Pac-12 Championship Game, but this Utes squad is must-see-TV. It’s also important to note that CFP committee chair and Oregon AD Rob Mullens no longer has to excuse himself from the room.”


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When Tua Tagovailoa went down last week, most assumed that Alabama’s playoff hopes went down with him. While Mac Jones was a highly-decorated recruit in his own right, following in Tua’s footsteps is no easy task. But on Saturday, Jones impressed once again, even if it was against FCS foe Western Carolina. The redshirt sophomore went 10-of-12 for 275 yards and three touchdowns and is now 2-0 as a starter this season. So did he show enough to give the Tide confidence heading this weekend’s Iron Bowl matchup?

We checked in with’s Kyle Henderson to get his thoughts.

“The overall pulse from Tuscaloosa, Alabama is this: Beat Auburn and let the chips fall where they may. The Crimson Tide is aware they do not control their own destiny, but with Oregon losing to Arizona State and Oklahoma continuing to play weekend survivor, the playoff selection committee is going to be hard pressed to not put Alabama in the playoff if LSU runs the table in the SEC. Playing in Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium against an incredible defense will be a tall task for the Crimson Tide playing with their No. 2 quarterback Mac Jones, but with a win to end the season, you have to think Alabama reaches the playoffs once again.”


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