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UCF Proves They Belonged in Playoff with Win Over Auburn In Peach Bowl

UCF Football

The Central Florida Golden Knights went in to the Peach Bowl against Auburn with a chip on their shoulder. UCF is the lone undefeated team in FBS football and received no love with the College Football Playoff Committee. In fact, the Golden Knights couldn’t even crack into to top-ten in the final playoff rankings. Their success did give them an opportunity to play a tougher opponent in Auburn and a chance to prove everyone wrong. The Tigers finished the season 10-3, but beat two top ranked teams in Alabama and Georgia. A rematch loss to the Bulldogs kept Auburn from a shot at the National Championship. A shot that UCF wasn’t given. So when the Golden Knights came into Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, they had something to prove.

And proved something they did. The Golden Knights met Auburn face-to-face and didn’t back down. The game went back-and-forth until UCF went up by 14 points late in the game. The Tigers made a strong effort at a come back, but the Knights held on. A final defensive push gave UCF the upset win 34-27 after being a 10-point underdog. They were well coached, played to their highest level and took down the seventh ranked team in the nation. Anybody that watched the game has to wonder if the UCF Golden Knights got snubbed from the playoff committee. Naysayers will promptly jump to the defense of UCF being a Mid-Major team in the Mid-Major conference and didn’t play a tough enough schedule to even be considered for the playoff.

I understand that strength of schedule plays a lot in determining whether a team is worthy or not of making the College Football Playoff. Although, that sometimes isn’t the case as the Golden Knights proved against Auburn. Their biggest wins of the regular season came against a wild one with South Florida and Memphis (twice). The Georgia Tech game may have made a difference with voters, but not by much. Regardless, the Golden Knights deserved a shot. When Auburn beat Georgia in the regular season 40-17, they were in the thick of playoffs talk. A win against Alabama solidified the argument for the two-loss Tigers. Especially given that their losses came from the hands of Clemson and LSU. Now that UCF knocked off a team that barely missed the playoffs and beat the number one team twice this season, let’s ask the question. Why not UCF?

Making The Case For UCF:

By now, I’m sure many readers are screaming at their phone or computer screens about how UCF didn’t play anyone. Not one team they played would’ve given them the push needed to make the jump into the top-four. Basing the rankings solely off of strength of schedule isn’t accurate. Yes, there’s more to it than a team’s schedule, but not in this case. Here’s a team that went undefeated, took out a top ranked team in Auburn, and couldn’t even break into the top ten all season long. Instead of talking about who they played, let’s talk about who the four teams in the playoff lost to. UCF is definitely a better team than Syracuse, Iowa State, and now Auburn. Only one of those three teams could have fared as well as UCF did in the AAC. So the Golden Knights don’t play in a top conference. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be competitive in the playoff.

And it just isn’t UCF. Mid-Majors have always been disrespected in the polls. It took several years for Boise State and TCU to get the recognition they deserved in the BCS era. The same goes for the 2004 Utah team that destroyed Pitt 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl to go 12-0 and finished the season fourth. Granted that the playoff wasn’t in existence with those teams, it’s likely that those teams wouldn’t have been included if a playoff existed then. This show’s how the Mid-Major schools don’t get the recognition they deserve and it also answers why the playoff needs to expand. Plus, everyone loves an underdog. Look at the Basketball Tourney. The first two rounds are heavily popular by fans in hopes of seeing an upset. The excitement would be similar in college football. It’s kind of funny though. While the majority of fans were accepting the four teams in the playoff, here comes the UCF Golden Knights to spark the question as to why the smaller schools can’t get in. Just because a program is smaller and doesn’t bring in the money the big boys can, doesn’t mean they can’t compete. UCF proved that in their win today.