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Know Your Foes: UCF’s Opponents After Week Ten

Still no respect from the committee.

Kirby Hocutt and the College Football Playoff selection committee are intellectually lazy.

The UCF Knights remain ranked at #18 by the committee. Last week, there were four two loss teams ranked ahead of UCF. This week there are eight. Most egregiously, two loss Michigan State rose a whopping twelve spots in the rankings by handing Penn State its second loss.

As discussed over here by the mothership, UCF’s ranking is simply too low.

The message the committee is sending with these rankings: we don’t care about the margins by which teams beat their opponents and – for Power Five programs – we don’t care all that much about how bad your losses are, either.

Hocutt’s position is that UCF’s “strength of schedule is the challenge in positioning them higher at this point in time.” Well, what’s good for the Group of Five goose is not good for the Power Five gander. Compare the Knights to fellow unbeaten team Wisconsin, which is ranked #6:

With this backdrop, let’s delve into our weekly look at UCF’s strength of schedule.

FIU Panthers (6-2 Overall, 4-1 Conference USA)

Look – even UCF’s season opening cupcake is bowl eligible. It’s only the third time in program history that the Panthers have reached bowl eligibility (first time since 2011).

Not that the Panthers’ wins have been especially impressive, but their 14-7 win this week over UTSA might have been “the most miserable C-USA game of the season.”

Maryland Terrapins (4-5 Overall, 2-4 Big Ten)

It’s great that the Knights clobbered their only P5 opponent of the season. Unfortunately, it’s not one that is going to look great on the resume. With a narrow road loss to Rutgers in what was a back-and-forth game, the Terps are back to a losing record.

It would be a shock if Maryland got to six wins, and its likely that the Terps won’t win another game. Their last three are against Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State.

#22 Memphis Tigers (8-1 Overall, 5-1 AAC)

The only G5 team other than UCF to be ranked by the selection committee, the Tigers moved up a single spot after blowing out Tulsa 41-14. Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson again was outstanding. His performance this year has been stellar, and it’s a credit to the Knights’ defense that they limited him so much in UCF’s win.

Memphis will likely win the AAC West, and beating an excellent Memphis team in the AAC Championship is one of the few potential resume boosts the Knights have left.

Cincinnati Bearcats (3-6 Overall, 1-4 AAC)

The Bearcats notched their first conference win of the year with their 17-16 victory over Tulane. It could have easily gone the other way. The Green Wave attempted a 36-yard field goal with less than a minute to play and missed wide left.

Cincinnati’s path to bowl eligibility is actually plausible. The Bearcats have games against Temple, ECU, and UConn remaining (all teams which, like the Bearcats, have losing records). Sure would be nice to have another bowl eligible team on the resume.

ECU Pirates (2-7 Overall, 1-4 AAC)

ECU never led and lost to Houston 52-27. They allowed the Cougars to put up 21 points in the first quarter, while scoring none of their own. The Pirates are irredeemably bad this year.

Navy Midshipmen (5-3 Overall, 3-3 AAC)

Navy suffered a surprising loss to Temple, which was well-prepared for the triple option and found improved offense with Frank Nutile at quarterback.

The way ahead is difficult for Navy. The Midshipmen have SMU, Notre Dame, Houston, and Army left on the schedule.

Austin Peay Governors (6-4 Overall, 5-1 Ohio Valley Conference)

Austin Peay has an outside shot at making the FCS playoffs. Their only losses are to three FBS programs (such losses are not taken into consideration when selecting teams for the FCS playoffs) and perennial FCS power Jacksonville State.

This week, the Governors beat Tennessee Tech. At 1-8, Tennessee Tech is the worst team in the Ohio Valley Conference.

SMU Mustangs (6-3 Overall, 3-2 AAC)

SMU gave UCF its toughest challenge of the year, but the Knights prevailed 31-24 (we had our Underdog Dynasty staff photographer at this game, and the photo gallery is over here).

The Mustangs capitalized on UCF miscues, including a McKenzie Milton pick six and an absurd number of missed tackles on the Mustang’s first offensive play (which yielded a catch-and-run for a long touchdown).

UCF was still the better team. And it’s good to see that the Knights can deal with adversity. Haven’t seen much of that so far this season.

UConn Huskies (3-6 Overall, 2-4 AAC)

UConn suffered a 37-20 loss against USF. The Huskies have one of the worst defenses in the country, and it showed against the Bulls.

Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter and left the game. The Huskies will be without him for their game against the Knights this week.

Temple Owls (4-5 Overall, 2-3 AAC)

Temple is certainly a more dangerous team with Nutile at QB (and to think that earlier in the season I thought they had found a steady hand in Logan Marchi).

The Owls are another team that could plausibly get bowl eligible. Aside from their game against the Knights in two weeks, Temple plays 2-8 Tulsa and Cincinnati.

USF Bulls (8-1 Overall, 5-1 AAC)

The Bulls are again not ranked by the committee. That’s just plain wrong, but consistent with the lack of value the committee attaches to AAC teams.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers had an epic performance with 516 total yards against UConn – a USF record. The Bulls offensive playcalling was much improved. They’re a dangerous team, and one the Knights will have to respect, even if the committee doesn’t.

Previous ‘Know Your Foes’: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, (we missed Week 8, sorry), Week 9.