Much of the discussion this season centered around Alabama and Ohio State. In the end, the committee chose the one-loss Crimson Tide over the two-loss Buckeyes, even though Ohio State was the Big Ten champion and Alabama didn't even win their division. Ironically, Ohio State benefited from the same type of decision when they were picked to compete in last year's playoffs ahead of the Big Ten champ Penn State.
But somewhat lost in the shuffle was the University of Central Florida. The UCF Knights finished the regular season unbeaten -- 12-0! -- but were only ranked 10th by the playoff committee. After a win in the Peach Bowl over 7th-ranked Auburn, the cries of injustice grew louder. So loud, in fact, that they reached the delicate ears of Tim Tebow. Tebow's response?
"There’s no question UCF [was overlooked]. But you need to go tell their president and athletic director to play a couple big-time teams in the regular season. You ask any analyst before they played Auburn and it would be really hard to justify them being in the top four with our eyes."Tim has a point... the point being, an undefeated team that didn't beat anyone worth beating is not all that special. More to the point, though: of the four teams that made the playoffs, which one would UCF beat?
Back in November, UCF gave up 42 points and over 600 yards in a win over USF. What do you suppose Baker Mayfield and his Oklahoma offense would do against the Knight's defense?
So while the Knights were impressive in beating Auburn, that same Tigers team was manhandled themselves by Georgia in the SEC title game. In fact, the Bulldogs literally ran over the Tigers with 238 yards rushing. And let's not forget the Georgia defense: they held Auburn to only 259 yards of offense compared to the 400+ yards the Tigers gained in the Peach Bowl.
Over in the other bracket sits Alabama. I'll just let you digest what the Crimson Tide did to the former #1-ranked, defending champion Clemson. While their 24-6 throttling may have lacked a degree of excitement, the Tide's methodical offense and staunch defense left Clemson with only 188 yards of offense.
What about UCF beating Clemson, you say? After all, Auburn had beaten both Alabama and Georgia -- the two teams that will play for the national title -- and UCF knocked off Auburn. Transitive Property anyone?
But even if we agree that Clemson looked like the most vulnerable team among the final four, that doesn't mean UCF was ever in any position to overtake them in the rankings. This Clemson team was at or near the top of the rankings for most of the season. While that doesn't mean anything on the field of play, it means a lot when it comes to picking who belongs in the college football playoffs.
Maybe UCF puts a Power 5 team on their schedule next time. Maybe they even beat them. Until then, they'll have to settle for calling themselves the national champions.