AP Rank: 26 Highest: 10 Unranked: 43/60
Central Florida finished right outside the AP Top 25, checking in first on the "others receiving votes section" at No. 26.
It did this, though, despite appearing on just 17 ballots. By contrast, the three teams that finished directly behind it—Florida, Texas and Duke—appeared on 21, 23 and 22 ballots, respectively.
Unlike those teams, the Golden Knights evoked strong reactions from the 17 voters who did include them, which explains how they ranked higher. There was hardly any middle ground on their opinions.
Logan Lowery of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, for example, had the Knights all the way up at No. 10, and six other ballots (seven total) had them in the top 20. Florida peaked at No. 15 and had five top-20 votes, Texas peaked at No. 20 and had two top-20 votes and Duke peaked at No. 18 and had six top-20 votes.
So—why the split opinions on UCF?
A lot of it probably has to do with head coach George O'Leary, who reportedly considered retiring after the Penn State game in Week 1. He refuted those rumors earlier this month, per Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, saying: "I'm not going to start a season and not finish what I do…I preach to the kids I don't quit," but it's difficult to ignore those rumblings entirely when assessing UCF's season.
If O'Leary's heart is in it, though, there's a lot to like about a team that won the 2014 Fiesta Bowl and returns a ton of pieces despite losing quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson.
That season opener against PSU should be a good one.