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Think UCF deserves national title consideration? Think again

By Tom Jones
Head coach Scott Frost of the UCF Knights celebrates with Shaquem Griffin after defeating the Auburn Tigers 34-27 to win the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. [Getty Images]

A million games down. Just one more to go.

After a long regular season, a slate full of bowl games and two semifinals, including an epic instant classic in the Rose Bowl, we are down to next week’s All-SEC national championship between Alabama and Georgia.

Over the next week, we’ll hear plenty about the SEC, the Tide and the Bulldogs. But let’s give a quick glance back at what we’ve seen so far. Here’s my Two Cents on college football:

Nice, but not great

Enough about UCF.

The Knights had a really nice season, but let’s not get carried away. They don’t deserve national championship consideration and their season is not a reason to expand the playoff system. Four teams is plenty.

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First off, they play in second-tier conference with second-tier competition. There’s a big difference between going perfect in a conference like the AAC and going undefeated in a conference such as the SEC or Big Ten. UCF’s biggest regular-season victories were against USF and Memphis — a couple of other AAC teams who fattened up on weak competition in a small conference. In other words, UCF’s resume wasn’t good enough.

Then, in the bowl game — a game that UCF cared about more than any game in program history — they beat a half-disinterested Auburn team that didn’t even want to be in the Peach Bowl. And before we declare that such a great victory, should I remind you that Auburn ended up losing four games and was like the third-best team in SEC?

Am I saying that a team not in a Power 5 conference can’t ever win a national championship? Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

UCF had a nice little season. Nothing more than that.

Coach overrated

Can we put the Jim Harbaugh genius talk on hold for a bit?

Remember that time Harbaugh asked, "Who has it better than us?"

Answer: The rest of the Big Ten bowl teams. Eight teams from the Big Ten made a bowl game. Seven of them won its game. The one loss? Harbaugh’s Michigan team that choked away a big halftime lead and lost to a pedestrian South Carolina. The second half play-calling and execution were abysmal.

Football analyst Cris Carter called Harbaugh the "most overrated coach in football." Okay, to be fair, Carter is an Ohio State guy. But Armani Toomer laid into Harbaugh, too, and he’s a Michigan man. He said Harbaugh isn’t the next Nick Saban or Urban Meyer and that Michigan deserves more than what Harbaugh is doing. Amen to that.

Maybe it’s too early to expect big results from Harbaugh. He inherited a mess and just finished his third season. We’re going to soon see the impact of the players he recruited.

Still, he’s 28-11 in three seasons. Brady Hoke went 26-13 in his first three seasons and everyone hated Hoke.

Harbaugh’s Wolverines have finished third, third and fourth in their division. Not the whole Big Ten; in its division.

He is 2-7 in rivalry games (Ohio State and Michigan State) and bowl games. And most alarming: Michigan is 9-8 in its past 17 games.

Of course, having said all that, half the teams in the NFL would take him in a minute.

Best tweet

Bowl games don’t matter unless they help you win an argument. — Fox Sports analyst Doug Gottlieb

Team whose bowl game made them look great

Florida Atlantic absolutely dismantled Akron, 50-3, putting an exclamation point on Lane Kiffin’s first season there. The Owls went 11-3 and finished the season on a 10-game win streak. Enjoy Lane while you can, FAU, because he’ll be gone soon.

Team whose bowl game made them look bad

Let’s get this straight: Miami is not back. The Hurricanes are getting better, but they have a long ways to go after Wisconsin exposed them in the Capital One Bowl. Miami finished with three consecutive losses. Not a good final week for coach Mark Richt. He watched another coach take his former team, Georgia, to the national championship game and looked like a horse’s rear for physically and verbally accosting an official in the Wisconsin loss.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy and deservedly so. But the best college football player in the nation was Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

2. Speaking of Penn State, put quarterback Trace McSorley at the top of the early favorites to win the 2018 Heisman.

3. Speaking of Mayfield, didn’t it feel as if Oklahoma didn’t allow him to be Baker Mayfield in the two overtime of the Sooners’ loss to Georgia?

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones.