The ongoing debate continues about UCF’s lack of inclusion in the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row.
Part of the “comedy” is the upper echelon elite conferences and programs in college football trying to act like there’s an immediate and simple solution to UCF scheduling situation.
Specifically, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey spoke out on Thursday in New York essentially saying UCF needed to “look inward” to worry about their own scheduling-situation and essentially stop complaining.
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) December 6, 2018
That had to simultaneously make officials with UCF, the American Conference and anybody else that champions the non-power 5, angry and laugh at the same time.
Sankey’s comments followed most of the national pundits’ “talking points” that the Knights should be excluded on strength of schedule over each of the last two of their unbeaten seasons.
Of course, never mind the fact that when UCF got a shot head-to-head against Auburn in January (who had beaten both Georgia and Alabama late in the SEC schedule), they beat the Tigers straight up at the Peach Bowl.
Further, at the root of the problem is most of the SEC top teams, like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, LSU and others don’t have any interest in playing UCF in a home-and-home situation. Rather, they would only welcome the Knights to come play them in a “one-off game” at their stadium in September.
The Knights also played a one-off game in Gainesville in 2006 against the Gators and were blown out 42-0.
However, as they have gotten better and more successful recently, including a Fiesta Bowl win in 2013 and over the course of these last couple of seasons, it’s understandable that UCF wants a quality opponents to play them for a home-and-home series. And, it should be noted that Steve Spurrier and South Carolina agreed to just such an arrangement back a few years ago, where they played the Knights first in Orlando and then, in a return game in Colombia.
On Friday there was discussion about whether UCF and the Gators could get together on a new series. And new Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin, who ironically is also part of the thirteen person College Football Playoff selection committee, did not dismiss the idea outright.
In fact, he even indicated that they would be open to the possibility of potentially playing home-and-home. However, the Gators, like other SEC schools at the top of the best conference in college football, want a “bit of a sweetener” in the scheduling deal. That is to get a second home game in exchange for the one return visit to your place.
UCF athletic director Danny White in response to that is it has been their desire recently, to do the straight up home for home, but they would have evaluate the one-off game or potentially playing at a neutral site like Atlanta, Dallas or somewhere else.
Here's how negotiation will go:
UCF: We want to play home and home
Florida: Nope. We can do 2 for 1
UCF: What about 1 home, 1 away, 1 neutral
Florida: Nope. We can do 2 for 1
UCF: We've won a lot of games and shouldn't have to do that
Florida: I have USF on the other line. Thanks
— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) December 8, 2018
It should also be noted that the Knights have been able to play a home-and-home with other power 5 leagues teams, specifically ACC schools. UCF had Georgia Tech on their schedule at home a year ago but that game was wiped out by Hurricane Matthew..
Likewise, on this year’s schedule UCF played and destroyed Pittsburgh in September in the first of their home and home series. However, unfortunately again lost a road game, this time to North Carolina, due to Hurricane Michael canceling the game. The Tar Heels are still going to come to UCF at a later date
So, it’s not as if the Knights haven’t had success with that type of scheduling, and maybe should go for the second level of SEC schools like Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas or Ole Miss and try to do the home-and-home.
The bottom line is, and less UCF were to be admitted into a power 5 conference, like potentially the Big 12 down the road, they’re never going to have a strength of schedule the same way, as a power 5 conference team that they’re going to be compared to by the selection committee and for the CFP.
This is not unlike what Boise State out in the Mountain West has faced throughout the 2000’s- being excluded in the old Bowl Championship Series and for the bigger bowl games. Now, the one year that they were playing a power 5 school in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006, they upset Oklahoma, dramatically. They also later defeated TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, as well.
And finally, there is the idiotic argument out there that UCF should schedule three or four power 5 teams out of their conference to replace their lack of tough teams in the AAC.
When the reality is that one loss would eliminate you from College Football Playoff discussion, then you’re being completely unfair to the knights by demanding that they load up out of conference in September at risk it all week to week for a month.
There’s also another weapon in the “strength of schedule” debate,when UCF gets their chance against the power 5 on the biggest, like they will against LSU January 1st, beat them.
Obviously, there’s no better response to the elitists looking down their nose at you, then knocking them off head-to-head on the field.
UCF freshman QB Gabriel already bringing home honors
If there was any chance for a two-quarterback system to continue at UCF, that appears to be answered already.
With Brandon Wimbush and Darriel Mack, Jr., both trying to gain playing time, true freshman Dillon Gabriel put a stronghold on the spot.
For the first time, this season the Knights started the same QB as the week before, and it seems like it will be like this for the foreseeable future. Gabriel, who shredded the Stanford defense Saturday, has the accolades coming in and was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week for the AAC,
Two players share this week's @American_Conf Offensive Player of the Week honor:
Dillon Gabriel of @UCF_Football threw four TD passes in the win against Stanford.
— American Football (@American_FB) September 16, 2019
Gabriel was also was named Walter Camp Foundation Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Knights to a win over the Cardinal by completing 22/30 of his passes for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He was able to hit for TD throws of 28 yards to Marlon Williams, 38 yards to Tre Nixon, 38 yards to Gabriel Davis and 1-yard to Jake Hescook.
UCF scored at least 30 points for their 29th consecutive game – the longest streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 1936. They also won their 27th consecutive regular season game on Saturday.
Gabriel continues to follow in fellow Hawaii phenom, Mckenzie Milton’s footsteps. From the same town and school as the UCF quarterback, he is on the path with the awards. Milton, who was the American Player of the Year in 2018, but suffered a horrible career threatening injury in November, is helping Gabriel adjust to college and leading the Knights.
By the way, Gabriel is the fourth UCF player to receive Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors, since 2004, and the first since quarterback Milton.
If Gabriel is going to be the starter going forward, and barring injury, it looks like he will, we can expect more performances like this leading Josh Heupel’s high-powered offense.
He will get another test next week on the road against another Power 5 opponent in Pittsburgh in a game that will also be televised to a lot of the country on ABC.
Week three power rankings are tighter at top
Week 2 of the college football season was not very kind to a handful off the state university’s last weekend. While week 1 of the NFL season was brutal for our in-state teams, as well. After a under whelming weekend for Florida football lets take a look at how things stack up in our rankings:
Florida Gators- The Gators were one of the only bright spots last week in the State. It took Florida until the 2nd quarter to find the endzone, which is something they surely didn’t envision. From there, they would head to an easy 45-0 victory over UT-Martin. The Gators did suffer two potential major losses on the night. RB/WR Kadarius Toney and DB C.J. Henderson were both injured and could miss the conference opener at Kentucky next week.
UCF Knights- UCF put up a lot of points (above) and a lot of yards, yet again. The Knights went over 500 yards and for the 28th game in a row put up 30 points. Freshman Dillon Gabriel silenced a crowd of over 30,000 that was the largest in program history for FAU. The Knights put up 14 points in both the first and second quarter on their way to a blowout victory. This week they face Stanford coming from California into the “Bounce House.”
This game was looking like a ranked match up before the Cardinal lost to USC late last Saturday night. Still, this is a big game for Knights against a Power-5 opponent and coach Josh Heupel knows they have to be impressive.
Florida State Seminoles- The Noles slide into the 3 spot or did they really back up into it? FSU was painfully close to loosing at home to ULM. Had the Warhawks gone for two, like many expected them to do, they might have walked out of Tallahassee with Willie Taggart contract in hand.
For the second week in a row the Noles had a 2nd half collapse. After leading 24-7 at the break they went into the 4th quarter still up 24-21, but then faltered badly, again, only to hang on 45-44 in OT. Heading into conference play this weekend the Noles will need to get a grip on things or they won’t end well starting at Virginia Saturday night.
Miami Hurricanes- The Canes were oh so close last week. In the first true road game of the year the U almost took one in Chapel Hill. Freshman Jarren Williams had a great bounce back performance throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns. After being down all game the Canes took the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter with 4:45 left to play.
The Hurricanes though still want this one back, as UNC freshman QB Sam Howell hit a 20-yard pass on 4th and 17 to keep the game winning drive going. The Canes would drive down the field to attempt a 49-yard field goal that was missed. Miami though should get into the win column next week against Bethune- Cookman.
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