Georgia and Alabama will play for the college football national championship Monday night inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already declared a different team as national champions.
Scott on Monday issued a proclamation declaring the University of Central Florida Knights the 2017 national champions in the state of Florida following the team’s undefeated, 13-0 season. That perfect season was capped with a 34-27 win in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day against Auburn, a team that beat both Georgia and Alabama earlier in the season.
“Florida is home to the country’s best college football, and this season, UCF proved to the world that they can beat any team,” Scott said in a release. “By having a perfect season and beating the only team that defeated both Alabama and Georgia this season, the UCF Knights are clearly champions. I wish both teams good luck tonight in Atlanta. Charge On.”
UCF was the lone Football Bowl Subdivision team to end the season undefeated.
However, despite holding a perfect record, a conference title and the top-ranked scoring offense in the country, UCF never had the chance to compete in the College Football Playoff. The committee ranked the Knights, who play in the American Athletic Conference, 12th in the final poll, behind one Power Five conference team with three losses (Auburn) before bowl season began and five others that had two losses. One spot below UCF at No. 13 was 9-4 Stanford.
The school self-appointed itself as national champions last week, holding a parade at Disney World on Sunday, putting up a banner inside their home stadium, selling national championship merchandise and paying assistant coaches bonuses reserved for winning the title.