Another Close Call For Central Florida Raises Questions About Its Ranking

By Mike Gibson
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Just about any kid will tell you one of the first things they learn from their parents is a warning not to play with fire.

Central Florida has been playing with fire all year and usually is able to put the flames out before it got burned. The latest episode of fire starter, Knights edition, came on Friday night in an AAC game with visiting rival South Florida.

Like a previous game against Temple and four other games where the Knights had to rally for a win in the closing minutes, the 10-1 Knights rallied behind the clutch quarterback Blake Bortles to win, 23-20. The game, though, reaffirms an earlier question about the 19th-ranked Knights: “Was this team really that good in the first place?”

After all, Central Florida allowed two true freshmen quarterbacks in P.J. Walker of Temple and Mike White of USF to engineer game plans that led to leads late in the fourth quarter. If UCF was a true BCS team, it would have had the kind of defense able to contain that kind of inexperience. Also, they barely beat a middle-of-the-pack Big 10 team in Penn State.

Central Florida is not done yet, though. It can win the title by beating SMU in its final game and having Louisville lose one of its final two games. If UCF and Cincinnati finish tied, UCF would likely win the league’s BCS bid as a result of a higher ranking than the Bearcats in the final BCS standings. The Knights can win the conference by taking one of two and having Louisville lose once. If UCF and Cincinnati end the year tied atop the conference at 7-1, UCF would likely win the league’s bid as a result of its higher ranking in the final BCS standings.

If anything, the South Florida game kept Central Florida behind Northern Illinois in the BCS rankings and that’s key because the Huskies need to stay ahead of the Knights in order to secure their second-straight BCS bowl bid. Not having the style points of blowouts against teams like Temple, Memphis and now South Florida, has likely sealed UCF’s fate of being in a lesser-tiered BCS bowl than NIU will be.

For that, the Knights have no one to blame but themselves.

Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a Phillies writer for Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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