College Sports

UCF’s playoff stock dips post-Milton injury. Here’s why it is unlikely to make big game

Saban dismisses claim that UCF shares national title with Alabama

Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."
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Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."

UCF fans received a familiar reality when it comes to their football team and the College Football Playoff committee.

The Knights were penalized for quarterback McKenzie Milton’s right knee injury that will require reconstructive knee surgery in the future, according to his family’s statement Tuesday afternoon.

Milton, who was named the American Athletic Conference’s offensive player of the year for a second straight year on Wednesday, was knocked from the War on I-4 rivalry game against USF early in the second quarter last Friday. This week, the CFP committee moved the Knights up one spot to No. 8, but they were saddled one spot lower than a Michigan team that was blown out by Ohio State.

The latest CFP rankings means that even if UCF defeats Memphis in the American Athletic Conference title game this Saturday without Milton and chaos ensues with Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State all losing their respective conference championship games, it is unlikely the Knights will be placed in the top four to earn a semifinal berth in this year’s CFP.

UCF, owners of the nation’s longest active FBS winning streak at 24 games, were placed behind two-loss Michigan, signaling the committee’s view that the Knights aren’t as good as the Big Ten team that just got blown out by an Ohio State team that suffered a 29-point loss to a six-loss Purdue team earlier this season.

The Wolverines won three games against ranked opponents, though two of those victories were against teams that faded this season with five losses apiece (Wisconsin and Michigan State). Penn State remains the signature win for Michigan.

UCF, meanwhile, doesn’t boast a strong enough schedule in the committee’s eyes and the Knights must win this week just to qualify for a New Year’s Six bowl in lieu of a playoff berth, even if they finish as a higher ranked team than other Group of Five programs such as Boise State and Fresno State.

That’s because college football’s rules dictate a Group of Five team must win its conference to secure a New Year’s Six bowl bid. As it stands, UCF is projected to go to the Fiesta Bowl, according to ESPN.

A Power 5 program doesn’t even have to win its division, let alone its conference, to qualify for the CFP as Alabama proved last year and Ohio State proved in 2016.

It’s a reality UCF fans are too familiar with as just last year the Knights marketed themselves as the talk of college football’s offseason by declaring themselves national champions following a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn. UCFs claim was later recognized in the NCAA’s official record book.

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