University of Central Florida quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. high-fives fans after scoring a touchdown against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship on December 1 in Orlando, Florida. UCF won the game. The team hasn’t lost in two seasons. (John Raoux/AP)

“That’s not fair!”

Kids say that all the time. When an older brother or sister gets to stay up late. Or when the teacher punishes the whole class even though only a few kids were being bad.

Well, kids, here’s something that’s not fair — the College Football Playoff.

On Sunday, a panel of experts picked four college football teams — Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma — to play three bowl games to determine the national champion.

It’s hard to argue against Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame. They won all their games in 2018. But there is another undefeated team that did not get picked: the University of Central Florida (UCF). In fact, the UCF Knights are undefeated over the past two seasons, winning 25 games in a row.

Big-time college football is not a level playing field. The 65 teams in the five “power conferences” — the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-12 and Southeastern Conference (SEC) — along with Notre Dame always get the four top spots in the College Football Playoff. The 64 teams in the lesser conferences do not stand a chance.


A UCF fan holds up a sign during the game asking that the team be considered for the College Football Playoff. (John Raoux/AP)

UCF was rated eighth in the country in the final ranking and will play Louisiana State in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day. This was the highest ranking for a team outside the power conferences in years. But UCF was ranked behind two teams — Michigan and Georgia — that each lost two games in 2018.

Football experts say UCF doesn’t play enough good teams to deserve a better ranking. But that’s unfair, too.

College football teams usually play 12 games in the regular season. They have to play around eight games against teams in their conference. Then the teams arrange, sometimes years in advance, to play four games outside their conference.

So UCF had to play eight games against teams in its American Athletic Conference. It is not the Knights’ fault the AAC teams are not highly ranked. The Knights, however, did crush an ACC team (Pittsburgh) 45-14 in one of their out of conference games.

Also, the best teams in the power conferences do not necessarily want to play a tough team such as UCF from a lesser conference. Take a look. Alabama played such easy teams as Arkansas State, Louisiana Lafayette and The Citadel for three of its nonconference games. Clemson played not-hard-to-beat Furman and Georgia Southern.

What more can UCF do to get a chance to play for the championship? Win 25 more games? As the UCF Athletic Director Danny White tweeted: The College Football Playoff “is not a playoff. It’s an invitational.”

Or as kids might say, “That’s not fair!”