We spent a year without fighting the UCF undefeated national championship. Are you ready to resume?
The Knights began the debate firmly on Atlanta Saturday, beating Georgia Tech 49-21 in the opening game this season. This was the very kind of victory the non-Power 5 program needed, and will be in rare supply in 2020, and many non-meeting games have been canceled. Praise the Yellow Jackets for keeping the UCF match on a revised schedule and upsetting the state of Florida last week for giving the Knights a bigger target.
Thus, UCF is once again in a position to participate in the college football playoffs debate. In 2017, the Knights were undefeated and unloved by the CFP, so they moved athletic manager Danny White to declare the 14-0 team national champion and put it on the exterior of the team arena. In 2018, UCF was undefeated again in the regular season, but lost to the LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, stopping their second straight one-sided title declaration. Last season, the first McKenzie Milton without a star quarterback was a relatively backslide 10-3.
But now, after sophomore quarterback Dylan Gabriel builds a sharp-looking 660-yard attack, we’re at the beginning of UCF vs. Founding, Round 3. There are a few wrinkles that can make this year’s claim a little different.
First things to do: UCF started with most facilities. The Southeastern Conference won’t run until next week, the Big Ten won’t run until next month, and the Pac-12 isn’t playing at all right now. Then there’s the Big 12, and you have a brutal start.
So the opportunity could never be better for not only the Knights, but also a few brothers at the American Athletics. Cincinnati (1-0) blew FCS Austin Peay to 55-20. Memphis is 1-0, but I am having trouble playing extra games due to COVID-19 issues. Houston still hasn’t played due to their opponent’s COVID-19 issues. All three are on UCF’s regular season schedule: Memphis October 17; In Houston on Halloween; Cincinnati November 21, Orlando.
UCF’s 3 losses last season were the only 3 games the Knights lost in a turnover battle. They posted a plus 3 turnover margin on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Freshman defensive lineman Josh Celiscar recorded forced fumbles, recovered fumbles, and interceptions in his first college match. If the knights don’t beat themselves, they might be invincible in 2020, and they once again claim they deserve the title.
UCF’s big win isn’t the only big news for Sunshine State. Miami made a 2-0 move to easily handle Lewis Bill this weekend in the ranking team’s only matchup. U may not come back “back”, but there is a roadmap to get there. This includes a productive running game, a playmaking enthusiasm added to D’Eriq King’s quarterback, and defenses that made a lot of big play against the mighty Louisville attack.
Florida has been prominently in the Top 10 this week, so let’s get started. (Note: No one has played more than one game, and no one plays more than one game against an FBS opponent, which means there are currently no Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma and Cincinnati.)
TOP 10 … Team
One. Clemson (2-0)
Last match: Beat The Citadel 49-0 Saturday
Next match: Saturday vs. Virginia
The Tigers beat their first two opponents 76-0 in the first half. The backup wasn’t sharp for Wake Forest or The Citadel, and while it may sound like a little potato now, it could be a bigger problem in the inevitable events of injured and/or COVID-related inactive players. Freshman defensive end Myles Murphy already has 4 tackles, 2 sacks and forced fumbles for defeat.
2. Notre Dame (2-0)
Last match: Beat South Florida 52-0
Next match: Saturday in Wake Forest
South Florida’s new coach is Jeff Scott, a former staff member of Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. What he saw at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday seemed familiar. “It seemed to play Clemson in most games,” Scott told South Bend Tribune. “Just in a gold helmet.” Fighting Irish was dominant over the Bulls after performing a pedestrian performance in the opening victory against Duke.
3. Miami (2-0)
Last match: Beat Louisville 47-34
Next match: Saturday vs. Florida State
The hurricane took full control of the early season showdown in Louisville. The second season blew up the Cardinals. King was an energy transfender in Miami, but the attack coordinated by Rhett Lashlee did what his mentor Gus Malzahn did so well. Developed a proficient running game. ‘The wand ran over 500 yards in both games.
4. UCF (1-0)
Last match: Beat Georgia Tech 49-21
Next match: Saturday in East Carolina
There are many playmakers in Knights. Six players played double digits on Saturday, and three had a reception over 40 yards. Oklahoma Transfers Jeil Ron Robinson is the newest big-play player with six catches at 105 yards in his first UCF match.
Last match: Beat Navy 55-3 September 7th
Next match: Saturday vs. Troy
The Cougars will run out of good opponents as this patchwork season progresses, and they lost their big opponents when their match against the Army was postponed (and likely canceled) due to BYU COVID issues on Saturday. But when the Midshipmen rally to beat Tulane, Cougars’ season opening ceremony naval annihilation was even more impressive.
6. Louisiana (2-0)
Last match: Georgia State win 34-31 in overtime
Next match: Saturday vs. Georgia Southern
Ragin’ Cajuns’ first match as a ranking team since 1943 has been on the brink of disaster all day long. They fell behind with two touchdowns for a good chunk of the game, but lost the lead and won the OT after rallying to take the lead. Enough to stay in the SI Top 10 for at least a week or more.
7. Texas (1-0)
Last match: Beat UTEP 59-3 September 12
Next match: Texas Tech on Saturday
There isn’t much to brake on UTEP, but technically check the FBS box to get the Longhorns ranked. All subsequent games will be more difficult than those games. Even in the Big 12 in trouble. To Kansas.
8. North Carolina (1-0)
Last match: Beat Syracuse 31-6
Next match: Boston College October 3
Tar Heels was canceled against Charlotte on Saturday due to 49ers COVID issues, leaving three weeks between matches. North Carolina started slowly against Orange, but forced a will in the fourth quarter. Syracuse looks like one of the worst teams at ACC, so Heels should put up the game in October.
9. Marshall (2-0)
Last match: Beat Appalachian State 17-7
Next match: Western Kentucky October 10
Thundering Herd was impressed with breaking down the ranking Appalachian State team on Saturday. App State’s 96 rushing yard was the least in six years, proving Herd’s defensive efforts. Marshall quarterback Grant Wells was far less keen than App State in the opening game of FCS Eastern Kentucky, but the freshman is 2-0 as a college starter.
10. Army (2-0)
Last match: Beat Louisiana-Monroe 37-7
Next match: Cincinnati Saturday
The Cadet lost the match against BYU, but the player against the Bearcats was killed. The army outpaced the first two opponents (the really bad team) by 72 points. That’s the program’s highest odds with two games since 1955, long ago.
For consideration: Boston College, Pittsburgh, SMU