The Central Florida Knights just a few short years ago were a winless football team. Today they stand as the only undefeated team in College Football. Next Monday Alabama and Georgia will play for the National Championship and both have a loss, and that loss is to the University of Auburn who manhandled Alabama and Georgia in the regular season. I know Georgia got revenge in the SEC Championship game but come’on, Central Florida outplayed and was more physical than Auburn for almost the entire game on Monday. They proved they were for real and what did they get for that? A Peach Bowl trophy!
With Auburn, a three-loss SEC team, you had to figure the Selection Committee figured Auburn, with their big physical team, would squash all the small conference teams in the world who scream every time that they are being screwed over when one of them goes undefeated. Well this time it came back to bite the Selection Committee right square in the ass, as the whole country got to watch one of these “little programs” smack the SEC right in the face.
UCF jumped out to a 13-6 lead at halftime behind an 18-yard touchdown run by quarterback McKenzie Milton and a pair of field goals from Matthew Wright. Auburn closed the gap and took a brief 20-13 lead in the third quarter before the Knights scored 21 straight points on a pair of Milton touchdown passes and a pick-six by linebacker Chequan Burkett.
Freshman defensive back and former Miami Southridge standout Antwan Collier sealed UCF’s win by intercepting a pass from Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the end zone with 24 seconds left to play.
Quarterback Milton was terrible in the first half, completing 3 of 17 passes and the Knights still lead by a touchdown at half-time. Plus admit it, when Auburn exploded out of the gates at halftime and went up 20-13 you thought that it was over? Didn’t you? Well it wasn’t and Central Florida proved they belong. The only problem is there is nowhere for them to go now. They are being left out because they are considered a have-not.
Central Florida was the movie Hoosiers, 1983 N.C.State Basketball and the 1980 Olympic Hockey team all rolled up in one. Number one, it was the highest rated non-playoff bowl game of the entire bowl season! Let’s face it, everybody loves an underdog and a team from a nondescript conference that was winless a couple of years ago certainly qualifies.
Then you have the amazing story of Shaquem Griffin who lost his hand at age four and has spent his whole life proving people wrong. Griffin was the AAC Defensive player of the Year this past season and I don’t know about you but I think that story would have been pretty good for television leading up to a National Playoff game.
College Football’s closet thing to a Cinderella National Champ would have been BYU in 1984 but there was no playoff back then and BYU was crowned by winning the Holiday Bowl on a last-second touchdown against a .500 Michigan Wolverines team. So that didn’t really cause any great excitement and the Washington Huskies should have played BYU for the National Championship that year.
#1 they render all other bowl games meaningless. #2 there is no chance for an underdog champion. That underdog champion is a huge deal. Look at the NCAA Basketball tournament? The greatest thing is the first weekend when the little guys get to battle the big guys, and when the little guys win it is huge news, as it should be. Right now the rich just get richer in College Football and people need to put pressure on the NCAA to expand the tournament to at least 8 teams, and more preferably 16 teams. For once let’s make sure the National Champion is truly the best team in the nation.
No matter who wins next Monday night they won’t be the true National Champion, because in the back of my mind, I will be thinking could they beat Central Florida? So for me, my National Champion is Central Florida, who beat 4 top-25 teams and took down what was supposed to be a bigger more physical Auburn team. To you guys who say I’m crazy, you sure won’t be the first or the last.
And all I say to you guys is GO KNIGHTS!
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