The college football champion has been crowned and, again, it is a Southern team. A few weeks ago, I made an argument for expanding the payoffs to eight teams rather than four. While in the midst of that very valid argument, I noted that the only undefeated major college football team, even if the field was expanded to eight, would not be in the playoffs this year. That team was the University of Central Florida. Here’s what I said:
“If the final eight were playing this year, the competing teams would be: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Auburn and Southern California.”
This lineup would still not satisfy the fans of, say, the University of Central Florida who were undefeated at 12-0 and were ranked at #12 in the final standings.
The problem with UCF, which is one of the largest universities in the nation with an enrollment of 66,000 students, is that is has a weak schedule compared with anybody in the SEC, or the ACC, for that matter.
UCF rolled over almost everybody — but the teams they crushed were schools like Austin Peay, Florida International University, Cincinnati, East Carolina, the University of Connecticut, Temple, and the University of South Florida (USF). The biggest scare they had came in a seven-point win in double overtime against the University of Memphis.
If UCF wants to play in the Big Game, they will have to start playing with the Big Boys. When the toughest teams you play are USF and Memphis, you are not in the same league.
And then came the Peach Bowl. Auburn got knocked out of the final four almost at the last minute even though they had defeated both Alabama and, in regular season play, Georgia. Those same two teams that Auburn defeated battled it out a few days ago for all the marbles.
Auburn, itching for redemption, came ready to bury the Knights of UCF. Problem is, somebody forgot to tell UCF they didn’t belong on the same field as Auburn.
Auburn drew first blood with a field goal and the contest was on. By the time the game was over, UCF had defeated Auburn 34-27 and left no doubt that they were well capable of being in the Big Game with the Big Boys.
And so, as Alabama and Georgia played Monday, the team who beat the team that beat both of them, and finished 13-0, was left to watch the game on television. And anyone who saw the Peach Bowl knows deep, deep down, that UCF could have held its own against the Dawgs or the Crimson Tide.
Had there been a better playoff system, we might well see the UCF Knights as the reigning champions of college football.
So, my sincere apologies to the University of Central Florida. I doubted you, underestimated you, and even mocked you. You were the David that didn’t get your shot at Goliath. If you had, you might have made history.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]