Reader Ken Kueker asked a great question yesterday:
"If UCF beats Auburn in the Peach Bowl, what do you think of voting them #1 in your AP ranking?"
My short answer is the obvious cop-out: It depends on how UCF looks (is it a triple-overtime win or a 30-point win?) and what else happens.
My longer answer: I won't rule it out, but don't count on it.
If the Knights beat Auburn, it will be extremely impressive. The Tigers are a very good team with a great defense, and UCF is trying to withstand a coaching change that has Scott Frost double-dipping the next few weeks. UCF would be the only undefeated team in the country, and it would have four wins over top-30 teams (Auburn, USF and Memphis twice).
Let's take this a step farther and present the best-case UCF scenario. Let's say Alabama wins the College Football Playoff. UCF would have beaten the team that beat 'Bama (Auburn) and done so with a perfect record. The Knights could get some help if Memphis beats Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl; the Cyclones, after all, gave the playoff-bound Sooners their only loss. It'd help, too, if USF looked better with a victory over Texas Tech.
Its resume would still lag behind other programs. UCF already has a weaker schedule than the four Playoff teams. 'Bama has played the nation's No. 56 schedule, according to the Sagarin Ratings; UCF's strength of schedule is 83rd.
The Knights can get one more quality win. 'Bama (or whoever wins the Playoff) will get two, which widens the gap even more.
The harder-to-define variable (the eye test) leaves me with serious concerns about UCF's defense. How would a defense that gave up 97 points over the final two games fare against Baker Mayfield or Georgia's run game?
I'm not against Group of Five teams; I wish they had a realistic shot at the Playoff, and I wish the Boise State team that beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl could have gotten a sniff of the national title.
But I have a hard time imagining UCF leaping over the College Football Playoff champion to claim the top spot on my final AP Top 25 ballot.