tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Monday, Jan 22, 2018
  • Home
  • USF Sports Bulletin
  • Joey Knight

Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Reader Ken Kueker asked a great question yesterday:

"If UCF beats Auburn in the Peach Bowl, what do you think of voting them #1 in your AP ranking?"

My short answer is the obvious cop-out: It depends on how UCF looks (is it a triple-overtime win or a 30-point win?) and what else happens.

My longer answer: I won't rule it out, but don't count on it.

If the Knights beat Auburn, it will be extremely impressive. The Tigers are a very good team with a great defense, and UCF is trying to withstand a coaching change that has Scott Frost double-dipping the next few weeks. UCF would be the only undefeated team in the country, and it would have four wins over top-30 teams (Auburn, USF and Memphis twice).

Let's take this a step farther and present the best-case UCF scenario. Let's say Alabama wins the College Football Playoff. UCF would have beaten the team that beat 'Bama (Auburn) and done so with a perfect record. The Knights could get some help if Memphis beats Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl; the Cyclones, after all, gave the playoff-bound Sooners their only loss. It'd help, too, if USF looked better with a victory over Texas Tech.


Its resume would still lag behind other programs. UCF already has a weaker schedule than the four Playoff teams. 'Bama has played the nation's No. 56 schedule, according to the Sagarin Ratings; UCF's strength of schedule is 83rd.

The Knights can get one more quality win. 'Bama (or whoever wins the Playoff) will get two, which widens the gap even more.

The harder-to-define variable (the eye test) leaves me with serious concerns about UCF's defense. How would a defense that gave up 97 points over the final two games fare against Baker Mayfield or Georgia's run game?

I'm not against Group of Five teams; I wish they had a realistic shot at the Playoff, and I wish the Boise State team that beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl could have gotten a sniff of the national title.

But I have a hard time imagining UCF leaping over the College Football Playoff champion to claim the top spot on my final AP Top 25 ballot.

Weather Center

10Weather WTSP


USF Bulls

Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?