I was heavily in defense of UCF and the fact that they should have been in the NCAA College Football Playoffs this year. So much, in fact, that it sparked a deep debate between Joe and myself.
This week, UCF had their bowl game against LSU. Last year – they had their bowl (and self proclaimed National Championship) against Auburn in a New Year’s Day Bowl. Joe and I put a friendly wager on the table: $10 on the spread (LSU -7) and if UCF won outright, I could publicly bash him and state how right I was. However, if LSU won by 14+, Joe could call me an idiot for ever believing in the Knights. LSU won 40-32.
Joe is such an honorable man, I’m sure he was just going to take his $10 and be done with it – so I’m here today to be honest. UCF looked horrible. Like, really horrible. They were without their star starting QB (who finished 8th in Heisman voting) who had a bad knee injury with 2 games left in the year. Their backup, Darriel Mack Jr, played like a backup. Could the Knights have won with their starting QB? Maybe. But LSU was also without 8 (that’s EIGHT) defensive players. Two starters got ejected, one sat out because he’s slated to be the number 3 pick in the draft – so this wasn’t even on either side. A backup QB is not an excuse.
Here’s what’s crazy. I saw SO MANY dropped passes. Wide open receivers dropping balls like it was a water balloon toss from 100 yards away. Is this why UCF is UCF and not, say, Alabama…or even LSU? LSU had a few drops as well, including a TD on a drive that ended up resulting in a FG. Mack played pretty bad – but his receivers did him no favors.
Check out these stats:
Total Yards: LSU – 546; UCF 208
Pass Yards: LSU – 385; UCF 78
First Downs: LSU – 32; UCF 17
Time of Possession: LSU – 44:31; UCF 15:29
It’s actually a miracle LSU didn’t win by 40. LSU, of course, slated themselves “National Champions” and pretty much made fun of UCF the entire time. But there was a point with a minute left to go where UCF almost recovered an onside kick that could have led to a TD drive to force overtime. UCF is resilient and have vowed to be back next year. The question will be – how good are they? Are they deserving of a playoff bid? Joe would argue no – I would argue yes. Are they going to perform worse than Notre Dame or Oklahoma? I doubt it. Are they going to beat Alabama or Clemson? Maybe not.
One thing is for sure – expanding the playoffs could help a lot of things. Maybe the LSU player slated for the NFL wouldn’t have sat out if he were in a playoff for the national championship. Maybe we wouldn’t be having that conversation. Maybe UCF, or even Appalachian State, could have made a run – and maybe not – who knows? But until we get some proof that these teams CAN’T consistently hang with the big dogs, I don’t think we can close the door. Until next year, I’ll give Joe his $10 he rightfully won and I’ll publicly admit that this year I was wrong. UCF could not hang with a 3 loss LSU team and if they played like they did yesterday versus Alabama, would have lost by a lot more than 8. But one game on one day anything can happen and maybe next year the result will be different.
What do you think about the playoffs and what do you think about UCF (or a similar team)? Drop down in the comments and let us know!