The regular season has wrapped up, how do the Florida teams stack up?
Every week this college football season, as we at Sports Talk Florida have done our voting in our Florida Rankings, debates and divisions have emerged. The value of simply being in a “power 5” conference was a matter of dispute, as was the value of a so-called “quality loss.” Teams went up and down as the season went on.
We never did come to a consensus about conference strength, strength of schedule, or the sting of a loss, and that’s fitting. These debates are part of what makes being a sports fan so much fun. Yet, for all the debating and for all the disputes, at the end of the day one team never wavered.
UCF has won the first regular season Florida Championship on Sports Talk Florida. The Knights have done everything right with the schedule they arranged years ago. Of course, that’s not the championship the Knights were hoping for.
It’s sad that things went the way they did for UCF. Central Florida had been great throughout the season, but an injury to McKenzie Milton will make them a different team, and in all probability a less potent one.
Still, the longest winning streak in the country is nothing to sneeze at. Just because the College Football Playoff consists of only four teams is no reason to act as though UCF accomplished nothing in this streak.
Through their offensive prowess, the Knights changed the outlook for the entire program. Through their admittedly silly declaration after last season, they forced the conversation about small schools in the playoff even if it did not go the way they might have wanted.
In a year where UCF was expected to be in transition as Scott Frost left and Josh Heupel took over at head coach, the Knights played fantastic football and proved that last year’s run was no fluke.
The regular season Florida Rankings:
1: University of Central Florida Knights – A bittersweet end to the regular season to say the least. Everyone at Sports Talk Florida, and really across football, wishes McKenzie Milton a full recovery from a devastating knee injury.
2: University of Florida Gators – The Gators finished as one of the top fifteen teams in the country, but there will be no conference championship as the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to face Alabama instead. A remarkable turnaround in Dan Mullen’s first year.
3: University of Miami Hurricanes – The ‘Canes end the season bowl-eligible, but it won’t be the big game they were hoping for when they entered the season as the nation’s #8 team.
4: Florida State Seminoles – “Bitter ending to Willie Taggarts first season in Tallahassee. The Noles looked bad against the Gators, lose the bowl streak, and end the season losing 4 of their last 5. Noles fans can hopefully find comfort in the phrase, “theres always next year”.” –Timothy Mallard of Tampa Bay Sports This Morning
5: University of South Florida Bulls – The seven-game win streak looks like a distant memory now, but USF will head to a bowl where they will look for an opportunity to end their five-game losing streak, one that took them from a nationally-ranked team to an afterthought.
6: Florida International Panthers – All FIU had to do on Saturday was beat Marshall and they would have been in the Conference USA Championship Game. They lost to the Thundering Herd in heartbreaking fashion, wrapping up their regular season. A remarkable year from Butch Davis’ squad, but they’ll spend the summer kicking themselves over losses to FAU and Marshall.
7: Florida Atlantic Owls – Five months ago the football world was ironing out a spot at a Power 5 institution for Lane Kiffin, who seemed to be in Boca Raton only temporarily. His stock has undoubtedly fallen considerably with a 5-7 season that ended on Saturday, one of two Florida schools to miss out on bowl season. If Kiffin leaves now, he’ll be leaving unfinished business behind.