In case you missed it, the UCF Knights are college football’s national champions for 2017. Sure, there’s a College Football Playoff National Championship game being played on Monday and UCF’s not in this game. But the Knights, the lone undefeated team in the FBS, are throwing a parade and raising a banner, so who are we to doubt them?
I mean, look at their Twitter feed. If it’s posted there, it must be true, right?
This (reasonably) claimed national title has real potential to create a split championship -- college football’s first since 2003 (USC/LSU). While the coaches are obligated to vote for the team that wins the playoff, the AP voters are not. And if I were one of them, I’d probably put my vote behind the Knights at No. 1.
This possibility got SB Nation thinking about other unbeaten teams that could lay claim to past national titles. They included 35 unbeaten and untied teams there, but one unbeaten (but once tied) team was not on the list:
The 1987 Syracuse Orangemen, who finished 11-0-1, if only because Pat Dye’s a little bitch and opted to end the Sugar Bowl in a tie.
It’s always seemed like a stretch to try and squeeze SU into that conversation, especially when no poll voted them No. 1 that year. But UCF’s brazen (and warranted) claim gives new life to the idea that SU, a team that did not lose a game in 1987, was a national champion that year.
The Orange finished No. 4 in both major polls, but two of the teams in front of them had a loss. Miami is the only other unbeaten, going 12-0 after beating previous No. 1 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Syracuse and Miami could’ve worked this out on the field a few years later in the Big East, but didn’t have the chance to do so that year. That’s not either teams’ fault. But it especially isn’t Syracuse’s, who could have also potentially been 12-0 (again, had Pat Dye not been a little bitch or the overtime rules were the same as today’s).
Since Syracuse is not in the SEC, it’s unlikely the school ever opts to lay claim to the title, however we’re not the school and we can make any claim we’d like. So, I present to you the 1987 championship banner for Syracuse football. May we cherish this title just like the one before it and yell at anyone who doubts its veracity.