After coming off their national championship* season a year ago, the UCF Knights are 11-0 and facing off against the Memphis Tigers in the AAC Championship for the second straight year. Unfortunately for the Knights, they will be without star quarterback McKenzie Milton, as he suffered a gruesome knee injury in their win over rivals USF last week.
The Knights came in at No. 8 in this week’s College Football Playoff Top 25, but there is still a chance for them to sneak into this year’s playoffs. It will take a lot of luck, but it is possible. Here is what they need to happen to have a crack at being the real national champions. Obviously, for UCF to make it this year they must beat Memphis, so let’s assume that has happened in this alternate universe.
Also, for UCF to make it, at least three out of these four scenarios have to happen.
Alabama beats Georgia
The SEC Championship this year is a rematch of last year’s national championship, and the No. 1 Crimson Tide enter as 13-point favorites over No. 4 Georgia. As shown last year, a one-loss, non-SEC champ Alabama can and will make the playoffs. If Alabama defeats Georgia once again, then there is little chance that a two-loss Bulldogs team would make the playoffs over UCF.
Pittsburgh defeats Clemson
Pittsburgh has a much better chance against Clemson than you think. Historically, the Panthers dominate against No. 2 teams when they are unranked. In 2007, Pittsburgh denied their bitter rivals No. 2 West Virginia a shot at the National Championship by defeating them 13-9. In 2016 Pittsburgh took down No. 2 Clemson in Death Valley. Just last year, Pittsburgh upset No. 2 Miami in the last week of the season 24-14. I know Pittsburgh is a massive underdog against Clemson and for good reason, but maybe Pitt can channel their spoiler card again.
Texas defeats Oklahoma
The Red River Rivalry has a rematch this year, as No. 14 Texas takes on No. 5 Oklahoma again. In their first meeting, Texas and Cameron “Dicker the Kicker” took down Oklahoma, 48-45. With the way the season has gone recently, Oklahoma should be the favorites in this game. Kyler Murray and the Sooners offense has been on fire, while the Longhorns offense has been sputtering. With this game shaping up to be a shootout, Oklahoma’s offense should be favored. However, with Texas winning the first game, you can never count them out.
Northwestern defeats Ohio State
Despite being swept in their out-of-conference slate and losing their starting running back to injury, the Northwestern Wildcats have found themselves in this years B1G Championship for the first time ever. They are facing the very inconsistent Ohio State Buckeyes who throttled their bitter rivals Michigan 62-39, just a week after squeaking out an overtime victory against Maryland. Dwayne Haskins and the Ohio State offense has been fantastic, but with how bad the Buckeyes defense has played, Clayton Thorson, Isaiah Bowser and the Wildcats have a chance to knock off the Buckeyes.
I’m not advocating for the Knights to make the playoffs. If Ohio State and Oklahoma both win then I do not think the Knights should make the playoffs. Despite their amazing 24-game win streak (last year shouldn’t matter in this year’s playoff discussion though), the Knights should find themselves on the outside looking in. If chaos does ensue this weekend, then why shouldn’t the Knights make the playoffs?
Would a three-loss Texas, three-loss Washington, two-loss Georgia or two-loss Oklahoma really be a better inclusion over UCF? No.