Florida Rankings – A Place For UCF

Central Florida is two wins away from creating a playoff problem again

It’s safe to say that nobody was satisfied when the University of Central Florida missed the College Football Playoff, won their New Year’s Day bowl game over Auburn, and promptly declared themselves national champions.  In fact, it was the talk of the offseason throughout the Sunshine State.

Sports fans across Florida have heard the arguments too many times.  You know every beat by now.  UCF ran the table, but they have a weak schedule.  That schedule is set years in advance, but in a four team playoff somebody “worthy” will always be on the cutting room floor.  Some believe the Knights capitulating would be tantamount to kissing Alabama’s ring like a scene from a mob movie.

Many of us cannot stop laughing over just how silly the whole thing is.  UCF declared themselves national champions and Alabama, who has no obligation to recognize it, is mad about it?  This is inherently funny, and as the Knights continue their winning streak it becomes increasingly clear that they’re on a collision course to run it all back.

So what if Central Florida wins out from here?  Granted, that is no guarantee.  Any team, with the possible exception of Clemson, is at least somewhat vulnerable in next week’s conference championships.  UCF also has to play rival USF in Tampa on Black Friday, against a Bulls team with little left to play for but ruining it for their rival.  Of course, if they drop either of those games, the discussion about national championships dissolves forever.

Supposing they win, however, college football would find itself back at square one.  At Sports Talk Florida, through much deliberation, we have come up with a couple of suggestions for what to do with the Knights should they win out.

Option 1:  Just give them the #4 spot in the playoff

This is easier said than done.  The College Football Playoff is determined on a long list of factors, and record is just one of those.  There is a very real chance that nothing the Knights can do will put them in college football’s national semifinal.  If Michigan and Oklahoma win their final games, their resume is simply stronger in the playoff’s formulae than UCF can be.

However, if there were the option to put UCF in (and again, there probably is no such option), the argument would be simple:  Nobody but Clemson stands a chance against the Crimson Tide anyway.  For those who believe that Michigan or Oklahoma would prove little challenge for Nick Saban’s squad, why not throw UCF in there?  Give the Knights their day in court.

Sure, the almost certain outcome to this would be the Alabama Blowout to end all Alabama Blowouts.  The 1980 US Hockey Team had a better chance, meaning a UCF victory over ‘Bama would go beyond simple miracles.

The benefit to this plan is that all arguments about UCF as the real national champions would end, permanently, and likely before halftime.

Option 2:  Please let UCF play Florida

The preferred option around our offices at Sports Talk Florida is exactly what our Florida Rankings have suggested for the past month.  Central Florida should draw the Gators on New Year’s Day, preferably at the Orange Bowl, for the unofficial Florida Championship.

The most unsatisfying part of UCF being left out of the playoff last year was not that they only got to play in a “New Year’s Six” bowl, but rather that the Knights played Auburn instead of Miami.  UCF vs Miami, in the Orange Bowl, with all the bragging rights in Florida on the line would have been a game for the ages.  If the Knights can’t compete for the national championship—and in all likelihood, they simply can’t for good or ill—then let them play Florida.

Local bragging rights are one of the most fun parts of college sports.  This thought is at the very heart of our weekly ranking.  Tampa Bay Sports This Morning producer and co-host Timothy Mallard has rooted for Florida State his whole life, and part of the fun of doing so is the back-and-forth he gets to have with people like the other host of TBSTM, Miami fan Tyler Bradley.  A couple of our writers have direct ties to the University of South Florida, and whether or not they care about college football they certainly want the Bulls to beat UCF.  Our managing editor, Tim Williams, went to Northeastern and sets time aside every year to watch the Beanpot hockey tournament (EDITOR’S NOTE:  Northeastern is the reigning Beanpot champion).  These local rivalries have all helped to inspire our ranking, and as people who believe strongly in the fun of sports rivalries we advocate strongly that the bowl rankings and committee find some way to hook UCF up with the Florida Gators.

This week’s rankings

1:  University of Central Florida Knights – It all comes down to two last games for UCF.  Well, two games and hoping that enough teams in front of them in the playoff ranking lose to rise up to #4.  It’s been reduced to a pipe dream, but short of getting a time machine and demanding a better schedule there is nothing more the Knights can do to help their cause.

2:  University of Florida Gators – Florida uncorked a dominant performance in taking the action right to Idaho and running up the score.  One wonders what the Gators would have done against Central Florida’s schedule.

3:  University of Miami Hurricanes – “Miami finally gets a win after dropping 4 straight games.  Pitt has won the Coastal division already, but the Hurricanes will be ready for revenge after last year’s loss to Pitt.”  -Jaquan Cathey

4:  Florida State University Seminoles – “This Florida State team fought for this win and the Noles defense deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the win. The stadium wasn’t packed, but it was certainly loud. The offense showed serious signs of promise but consistently failed to sustain any form of success. Deondre Francois 2 first half interceptions had fans exciting the stadium early. Kudos to those who stayed for until the very end! Its rivalry week to determine bowl eligibility.  Can the Noles beat Florida to make it 37 straight bowl games? We’ll see Saturday in the Sunshine Showdown.”  -Timothy Mallard of Tampa Bay Sports This Morning

5:  University of South Florida Bulls – “The Bulls got something against Temple that they desperately needed: a solid defensive performance. Problem was, neither the offense or special teams showed up in the second half. Any such lapses against UCF on Friday will likely result in much embarrassment to close the regular season. It would also send the many Knights fans sure to be in attendance home very happy.” –Tom Layberger

t-6:  Florida Atlantic University Owls
t-6:  Florida International University Panthers – Because of a poor record, FAU has largely been at the very bottom of our poll for much of the year.  However, we have a voter who feels very strongly that they should not be ranked below an FIU team that they destroyed just a couple of weeks ago.  The Panthers are a win away from the Conference USA Championship game, making them one of only two teams in the state still eligible for a conference championship.

Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.