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If the AP Voters Leave UCF Out of the Preseason Top 25, They're Crazy

AP Voter Brett McMurphy leaves UCF off his ballot

UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton (Photo: UCF Athletics)
UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton (Photo: UCF Athletics)

UCF will start the season ranked 23rd in the Coaches' Poll, but everyone will be closely watching the release of the Associated Press poll, which is scheduled for Monday.

But Brett McMurphy, the recently-minted College Football Insider for Stadium, dropped an inauspicious hint on Wednesday about what might go down:

Notice: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FAU. And no UCF.

Anger has set in across UCF Twitter. I'm not going to mention examples. You can check Brett's mentions for that. Bring protection.

This brings up a difficult question to contemplate: Coming off a 13-0 season, a conference title, a #6 finish in the AP Poll, and a national title claim, could UCF be left out of the Preseason AP Top 25? Should they be? And if so, why?

Thanks to UCF alumnus Matt Brodsky of CBS Sports, because he poses an interesting question:

Let's analyze that in-depth, and compare that 2016 USF team with the 2017 UCF team:

Team 2016 USF 2017 UCF
Record 11-2 13-0
Conference Record 7-1 8-0
Bowl Result W vs. South Carolina W vs. #6 Auburn
Won Division? No Yes
Won Conference? No Yes
Total Offense Rank 11th (511.5) 5th (530.5)
Scoring Offense Rank 4th (43.8) 1st (48.2)
Rushing Offense Rank 5th (285.3) 33rd (198.7)
Passing Offense Rank 70th (226.2) 10th (331.8)
Total Defense Rank 120th (482.0) 93rd (427.9)
Scoring Defense Rank 92nd (31.6) 52nd (25.3)
Rushing Defense Rank 84th (196.5) 59th (159.8)
Passing Defense Rank 122nd (285.5) 115th (268.1)
Turnover Margin 14th (+0.69) 2nd (+1.31)
Returning QB? Yes Yes
Returning Head Coach? No No
Off/Def Starters Returning (Phil Steele) 7/9 6/6
Off/Def/Tot Returning Production (SB Nation) 71%/77%/74% 71%/76%/74%
Final AP Ranking 19th 6th
Next Preseason Ranking 19th 21st

Well, would you look at that. UCF had better overall numbers than USF from the previous season, also returns their QB but not their coach, and also returns most of its offensive and defensive production.

Now, I'm not saying UCF should start the season ranked 6th. I"m also not saying he should have left off Miami, FSU, UF or FAU. But for any AP voter to leave UCF off their ballot after finishing 6th the previous year is patently absurd.

I'm sure McMurphy has his reasons for leaving UCF off his ballot, but if any of them have to do with the departure of Scott Frost, or Shaquem Griffin, or Tre'Quan Smith, they've all been debunked above.

Yes, UCF has an entirely new coaching staff. And yes, UCF lost some key names on both offense and defense. But it is clear looking at the data that UCF deserves to be ranked in the preseason.

I can't believe I have to make that argument, but here we are.

If the Knights are not ranked in the preseason AP Top 25, there can be only one reason: AP voters want to penalize UCF for its National Championship claim. That would be ironic since it's the writers who are clamoring for an expanded playoff anyway.

So what gives? I suppose we'll find out Monday.