UCF AD declares Knights 'national champs'; fan billboard urges AP voters to make UCF No. 1

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, right, and Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) celebrate after the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Central Florida upset Auburn Monday in the Peach Bowl to complete a perfect 13-0 season.

UCF is the only team without a loss for the 2017 season, and that led Knights athletic director Danny White to make a bold proclamation after the 34-27 victory:

“National champs,” White said. “Undefeated.”

UCF rolled through the regular season undefeated and knocked off Memphis in double-overtime to win the American Athletic Conference title game. That win clinched a berth in the Peach Bowl as the top-ranked team from a Group of Five conference, but the Knights were down at No. 12 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. That ranking understandably drew a lot of ire from folks at UCF.

After UCF came in at No. 14 in the second-to-last rankings from the CFP selection committee, White voiced his displeasure to Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson.

“I thought finally we’d get a little more respect,” White said. “It doesn’t seem to matter what we do.

“Our league is as competitive as a lot of these so-called P-5 conferences. That’s why I’m speaking up about it. We need to continue to build our football program. We can’t accept the lack of respect the conference is currently being shown.”

After beating Auburn, the SEC’s runner-up, on New Year’s Day, now-former Knights coach Scott Frost (Frost took the head-coaching job at Nebraska, his alma mater, but coached UCF in its bowl game) echoed White’s sentiment about his team’s consistently low ranking.

“Going through the season, I was afraid to say much about the rankings and everything because I’m a little superstitious. And just when a coach starts running his mouth, that’s when you lose the next game. But it wasn’t right,” Frost said. “I was watching every week, the Committee sitting in a room and decide this two-loss team must be better than UCF because UCF is in the American. Or this three-loss team must be better than UCF.

“It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn’t have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost. And oh, no, now we have to put them in a playoff. But we just beat a team that beat two playoff teams and lost to another one by six points and we beat them by seven.

“And Auburn is a great team. I’m not taking anything away from them. I give them a ton of credit. But these guys deserve everything they get, and they deserve more credit from the Committee than what they got.”

UCF fans got in on the action by Tuesday morning as well, with at least one overzealous fan purchasing billboard space in Orlando urging Associated Press voters to make the Knights its national champion – since UCF is “The Only Undefeated Team in FBS.”

At this point it’s hard to hate on their train of thought. Sure, calling UCF the national champion won’t get you far, but the committee ranking UCF at No. 12 is pretty much indefensible.

Whether UCF’s run changes the way teams from Group of Five conferences are viewed by the committee moving forward remains to be seen though.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!