UCF did it, coming up with a brilliant win over Auburn to finish unbeaten. Here are five things that matter.
Peach Bowl: UCF 34, Auburn 27
5. Nothing against Auburn, but UCF winning is totally awesome
No offense to Auburn in any way, shape, or form, but for all those teams that go 0-12 in a season. For all those Group of Five programs who feel like they have nothing to shoot for. For all of those who thought that there was no way the American Athletic champion could handle a motivated team that came within a game from playing in the College Football Playoff. For all of those UCF fans hoping to maybe become a Big 12 program soon, or just wanted to see something special.
This was totally awesome.
It was a good thing for college football.
4. Auburn took too long to wake up
Give all credit to UCF for pulling this off, but it took way too long for Auburn to wake up and get this all going.
The Tigers didn’t play with any energy or urgency – at least, that’s how it looked. They weren’t bouncing around, there wasn’t any tempo, and there wasn’t any pace to what they were doing.
Again, UCF’s defense had something to do with it. but Jarrett Stidham was off, Kerryon Johnson ran for just 71 yards and a score, and the offense couldn’t come through in the clutch.
This might not have been the UCF team that ripped through Georgia the first time around, and it didn’t look like the team that beat Alabama. If was healthier and rested.
And UCF beat it.
3. Where do you rank UCF now?
Here’s the problem. UCF doesn’t have any other great wins.
Memphis lost to Iowa State. South Florida is a good win, but it wasn’t that amazing. Beating Maryland doesn’t help, and there wasn’t much else to hang the hat on.
However, Auburn beat Alabama, UCF is the only unbeaten team in college football this season, so no matter what, don’t you have to rank the Knights ahead of the Crimson Tide?
It’ll be an interesting theoretical debate, but with LSU losing to Notre Dame, it’s not like Bama has a big win to stand on – at least before the Sugar Bowl – either.
2. McKenzie Milton’s brilliant performance
Being touted as the Group of Five’s Baker Mayfield, McKenzie Milton was a baller who got the job done against the big, bad SEC team.
He’s not big, but he’s quick, he’s clutch, and he’s not afraid to take his downfield shots.
While he only completed 16-of-35 passes, they went for 252 yards and two scores, and he led the team with 116 rushing yards with a score on just 13 carries.
Keeping the chains moving, controlling the clock, and dictating the tempo – that’s what he did all year. Now he just did it against the SEC West champ.
1. The Group of Five’s big moment
So now, does this help change the College Football Playoff committee’s mindset?
Is there a chance the GOFers will get more respect in the process, or can the CFP expand enough to allow teams like this UCF to get a shot at the national title?
UCF was the only unbeaten team, it proved it could beat someone great, and now, the Group of Five is 3-1 in the New Year’s Six bowls in the College Football Playoff era.
In terms of public opinion, and in the perception for teams going forward, UCF is the torch bearer now. It’s possible to do big things no matter who you are.