UCF has a great shot at making the four-team College Football Playoff this year!
With the Big Ten and the Pac-12 dropping off the football schedule for the fall, that has opened up the door for the American Conference champion to make the four-team playoff potentially.
Last year I rated the American Conference as the fifth-best conference ahead of the ACC in my final conference ratings. Memphis played in the Cotton Bowl, and five AAC teams finished with double-digit wins. The ACC was Clemson, and then you tell me, who was the second-best team? There is no clear answer. The AAC finished with four teams in the final AP Top 25, and the ACC had just one.
Last year I was not very high on UCF heading into the year and caught some flak from Knights fans. UCF was off back to back undefeated regular seasons and was 25-1 in 2017 and 2018 combined, including a Peach Bowl win over Auburn. I did not even have UCF winning their division as I had Cincinnati facing Memphis in the AAC title game with Memphis, my surprise pick to make the New Year’s Six Bowl game.
UCF went “just” 10-3 with a one-point loss to Pitt, three-point loss to Cincinnati, and a three-point loss to Tulsa. They were just seven points away from being unbeaten. UCF was No. 46 on my Experience Chart in 2019 but move up to No. 18 this year as they go from having 11 returning starters in 2019 to 16 this year. I am much higher on the UCF this year overall.
The American will be a very tough conference again this season, but my power ratings have UCF favored in every game with a great shot at going unbeaten. Check out pages 208 and 209 of the 2020 Phil Steele’s College Football Preview for complete details on this year’s UCF team.
The Big 12 plays nine conference games then a title game. The SEC is playing ten conference games and then a title game. The ACC is playing ten conference games and then a title game. With the added conference games, the odds are that the team that is the conference runner up (most likely the loser of title game) will have two losses or more this year.
If UCF runs the table and the nearest Power Five league runner up has two losses, given UCF’s track record, they would have a great shot at making the College Football Playoff this year.
In this year’s magazine, I had Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, and Oklahoma making the playoff. With Ohio State not playing this fall, my revised forecast has Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and UCF being the four teams to make the playoff.
If you go to page 352 of the magazine, I list my top ten contenders for the Heisman Trophy, and I had forecast Justin Fields to win the Heisman. With Ohio State not playing this fall, I will change that to Trevor Lawrence as my favorite and would like to point out that EIGHT of the top ten players listed are still playing this fall.
Remember we printed a very limited quantity of this year’s magazine and it is only available at two EXCLUSIVE retailers this year. You can get it at Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million. Save your gas driving around looking for it as those are the only two fine stores. You can also order the magazine right now at philsteele.com store .