UCF added nonconference home-and-home series with Boise State and BYU to its future schedules, the schools announced Tuesday.
For UCF, the additions show an ongoing commitment to enhance its strength of schedule. The Knights have been criticized for their strength of schedule, finishing the regular season undefeated in 2017 and 2018 but not being in the College Football Playoff conversation.
“BYU and Boise State represent big-time strength-of-schedule games for our program based on their records and Top 25 rankings in recent years,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “We are committed to continue to schedule attractive, meaningful football games both for our fans and student-athletes. BYU and Boise State are both power programs, and we’re proud to play them.”
Boise State and BYU do not come from Power 5 conferences, but they are still big-name opponents.
Boise State ranks among the most successful Group of 5 schools in the nation — with double-digit win totals in eight of the past 10 seasons and multiple past appearances in the Fiesta Bowl.
Independent BYU does count as a Power 5 opponent for Power 5 conference schools playing the Cougars. BYU has six bowl victories and 81 combined wins over the past decade and has victories over Tennessee and USC this season.
Boise State will travel to play UCF in 2021, a season in which the Knights play at Louisville. UCF will play at Boise State and host BYU in 2023, and will travel to Provo to play the Cougars in 2024.
White has previously said scheduling nonconference games against Power 5 opponents has grown difficult in recent years because of the Knights’ success. In an interview with ESPN over the summer, though, he said programs have become a little more receptive.
“For programs looking to beef up their schedule I’ve been a little surprised just hearing how they’re thinking and as we continue to build our brand that could be helpful to us,” White said. “Whereas previously, it was, ‘Let’s be careful because we’ve got a tough conference schedule, we don’t want to play a tough team in the nonconference.’ “
Boise State has made its name playing tough nonconference games, going back to its rise as a Group of 5 power, and beat Florida State earlier this season. The Broncos set the standard in the BCS era that UCF has followed up on now in the College Football Playoff era. Both now appear to be in contention for the Group of 5 spot in a New Year’s Six game: Undefeated Boise State is ranked No. 16 in the latest AP poll, while UCF is No. 22 after losing at Pittsburgh last weekend.
In addition to Boise State, BYU and Louisville, UCF has future games set against Power 5 teams North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
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