Clemson’s national title reign is only hours old, but that didn’t stop ESPN from releasing its way-too-early top 25 rankings for the 2019-20 season
The Tigers are ranked No. 1, followed by Alabama and the remainder of the top 10 are a mix of teams either making this year’s College Football Playoff field, were in the discussion to make the CFP or finished this season with signature bowl victories.
One team, though, that didn’t crack the top 10 was UCF. The Knights lost by one score to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl to see their 25-game winning streak get snapped.
UCF was listed at No. 14, behind the aforementioned Clemson and Alabama followed by Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Michigan, Oregon and Washington State.
“The defending national champions — oh, sorry — didn’t miss a beat under first-year coach Josh Heupel, as they narrowly missed finishing the 2018 season with an unbeaten record for the second season in a row,” ESPN wrote in its outlook on UCF. “It’s unclear when star quarterback McKenzie Milton will be ready to return after suffering a devastating knee injury, but Heupel said he’s certain Milton will play again. Redshirt freshman Darriel Mack Jr. was very good in his absence; he was named MVP of the AAC championship game after throwing for 348 yards with six total touchdowns.”
UCF’s 2019 schedule includes two nonconference games against Power 5 programs Stanford and Pitt.
The Gators and Knights were the only programs from Florida to make ESPN’s way-to-early top 25. Both Florida State and Miami, coming off disappointing 2018 seasons, were not listed. UCF was the only Group of 5 team ranked. Notre Dame and Army (No. 25) are independents.
Nebraska, coached by former UCF coach Scott Frost, was No. 24 despite going 4-8 last season based on the strong finish the Cornhuskers had.