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U(CF)ndefeated football

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After defeating the USF Bulls, the UCF Knights couldn’t be more thrilled with another victory to cap off their perfect season.

After defeating the USF Bulls, the UCF Knights couldn’t be more thrilled with another victory to cap off their perfect season.

orlandosentinal.com

orlandosentinal.com

After defeating the USF Bulls, the UCF Knights couldn’t be more thrilled with another victory to cap off their perfect season.

Caitlin McAuley, News editor and Fundraising manager

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Imagine going undefeated in a football season. The feeling would be pretty good right? Now imagine not going to a national championship game because the team one plays for is in the American Athletic Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and not the Atlantic Coast or Big 12 Conferences. Since the University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights football team did not play teams in higher-ranked conferences, they did not get the opportunity to compete in the playoffs or the National Championship for college football. However, UCF did go undefeated.

In Division I NCAA Football Bowl subdivision, there are 11 conferences. Within each conference, college football teams are placed based on region the team is in. The UCF football team is placed in the American Athletic Conference among schools such as: University of South Florida (USF), University of Memphis and East Carolina University. In the 2017-2018 football season, UCF played thirteen games and won all thirteen. The last conference game they played was against the USF Bulls, on November 24, 2017. It can be considered the best game of the Knights’ season. UCF capped off the perfect regular season with a 49-42 win when wide receiver Mike Hughes had a 95-yard kickoff return with 1:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.

At the end of the season, the Knights played Auburn University (Southeastern Conference) in the Peach Bowl and won 34-27. By beating Auburn, UCF’s ranking went up to an overall sixth for the season. Due to the fact UCF played teams in their not-so-high ranked conference, they could not bring up their ranking and play in the playoffs or the National Championship. Each team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, gets about two or three non-Power 5 games in which the Athletic Director or Coach can choose who they play. This past season, if UCF chose to play harder teams such as the University of Oklahoma Sooners (12-2) or University of Miami Hurricanes (10-3) and won, the Knights would have won outside of their conference and possibly had the chance of making the playoffs. However, if they played a Power 5 team such as Vanderbilt (5-7) or Kansas (1-11) it would not have benefited the Knights because those teams are poorly ranked inside of their conference. Their fate is determined by the strength of the schedule (who they play, their competitors).

Junior Andrew Klotz said, “I believe the rankings were pretty fair overall because they generally went by the difficulty of the teams they were facing.”

The UCF Knights 2017 football team consisted of roughly 125 players and 25 coaches, the head coach being Scott Frost. Frost graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was the defensive graduate assistant for the 2002 Nebraska Cornhuskers team. In 2015, after finishing the season 0-12, Frost became the Knights’ Head Coach.

According to huskers.com, “UCF was led by its high-powered offense and improved defense under Frost. The Knights led the nation in scoring at 48.2 points per game and were the only FBS team to score at least 30 points in every game. Defensively, UCF improved its scoring defense by 65 spots in Frost’s two seasons.”

Unfortunately, after just two short seasons, Frost decided to return to his alma mater (Nebraska) and for the ‘Huskers 2018 football season, as Head Coach.

UCF’s new coach, Josh Heupel, said, “I’m going to build this program from where it’s at and take it to higher heights.”

“Personally I believe the 2018 season could go either way. It depends on how many seniors left, but UCF has a young team. However, Coach Frost brought some sort of ‘spark’ to the team and the Knights went on to be undefeated,” said junior Tyler Thomas.

Along with having a great football program and academic system, UCF offers a Team Camp for high school football teams. The best teams from Florida and Georgia come and play either in 7 vs 7 two hand touch against one another or 11 vs 11 full contact. Going to this camp gives high school athletes the opportunity to get a feel for playing college ball and it is good exposure for prospective college scouts. The Park Vista Cobras varsity football team has attended the camp for the past two years. After attending in 2016 for the first time, the Cobras went undefeated in the regular season and won the district championship.

Thomas, Cobras varsity quarterback, believes going to the UCF football camp is “a great bonding experience for the team. We spend those three days doing everything together, from eating to sleeping in dorms. I feel like we found ourselves at camp and it was a huge reason to our success for the past two seasons.”

What makes a winning team? How did UCF pull off the “impossible?” Is UCF simply a one-hit wonder? According to championshipcoachesnetwork.com, Jeff Janssen’s Seven “C’s” of Championship Team Building are factors which distinguish a winning team. The Seven “C’s” include: Common goal, Commitment, Complementary Roles, Clear Communication, Constructive Conflict, Cohesion and Credible Coaching.

Janssen said, “Without teamwork, there is trouble.”

Junior, David Kellier, believes a winning team is made from “…the amount of effort, dedication and determination everyone puts forth. That all starts with the weight room. If you work your butt off in there, then it will show on the field.”

Under Frost, the Knights thrived. Whether they will be able to achieve equal or greater goals under Heupel is unknown, but the last time UCF went undefeated before 2017 was, well, never. Some compare UCF to Boise State. In 2006, the Boise State University Broncos had a perfect season. However, they too had a “soft” schedule. Both teams play in mediocre conferences and play “easy” teams.

“To be honest, I feel that the rankings were off and UCF should have been in the top 5 and should’ve went to the national championship and also given a shot to prove themselves,” said junior and Cobra varsity running back, Nick King.

Even though UCF plays in a mediocre conference, despite all odds, the Knights had a perfect regular season and hold the title for champions of the Peach Bowl. Hopefully, college football playoff rankings take into account the heart and strength of a team, not just the schedule, so the Knights can soon get a shot at the National title.

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