UCF earns spot in Preseason AP Poll for second straight year

Photo by Sarah Kelliher

For the second straight year, UCF has earned a spot in the preseason AP Top 25. The Knights came in at No. 17. The team started out at No. 21 last season.

UCF is coming off a 12-1 season where the team once again captured the AAC Championship against Memphis, but saw its 25-game win streak snapped against LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights are now looking to move forward without McKenzie Milton, who will miss at least the 2019 season with a serious knee injury.

But UCF still has high caliber talent at virtually every position, and that clearly registered with the voters who chose to include a team that still does not have a starting quarterback 10 days out from the opener. Here are some other interesting notes about UCF’s ranking:


  • The Knights become just the third Group of Five team this century to be ranked in back-to-back preseason AP Polls. The other two teams are Boise State and TCU (when it played in the Mountain West)


  • Through last season, 10 Group of Five teams have earned a spot in the preseason AP Top 25. Those teams went a combined 107-23, finished ranked 70 percent of the time and won an average of 10.7 games. History suggests 2019 will be a big year for UCF.


  • UCF was not the only state team to show up in the poll. Florida earned the No. 8 ranking, marking the seventh time this decade that the Gators have been named in the preseason AP Top 25. They ended the year ranked in just two of those seasons.


  • This is the fifth season this decade where the Knights have appeared in the AP Poll. They finished ranked in all of the previous four seasons (2010, 2013, 2017, 2018).


  • Since forming in 2013, the AAC has now seen one of its teams in the preseason AP Top 25 in three different years. UCF was ranked to start last year and Houston was ranked at the start of 2016. The AAC has had at least one team finish ranked in every year of its existence.


  • UCF will be looking to win its seventh conference championship in 13 years this season. Interestingly, all six of the Knights’ previous championships have come under different quarterbacks. While Milton did start most of 2018, it was Darriel Mack who started the AAC Championship Game, and led the Knights to a win with six total touchdowns. This trend could continue in 2019 with Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush the presumed starter.


  • Josh Heupel remains as the only UCF head coach to helm the Knights in a year where they earned a preseason ranking. Despite strong campaigns under George O’Leary in 2010 and 2013, and Scott Frost in 2017, the Knights were not in the preseason poll in any of those seasons.
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Christian Simmons is the founder and editor of Knight Sports Now. You can follow him on Twitter at @ByCASimmons.