Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
If the people who tell us what the Mayans 'really' meant are right, this is going to be the last time we see college football before calamity strikes. If we even make it that far. Too bad one of the teams technically shouldn't be here
Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg, Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why it exists: I have been trying to figure this out for four years now
The Teams: Ball State and Central Florida
How Ball State got here: By being the most #MACtion team that ever #MACtioned. All of Ball State's games featured at least 52 combined points, all but two featured at least 55 points between the two teams -- with one of those oddly being the Cardinals' only overtime game of the year -- and five saw a final combined score of more than 70. A defensive powerhouse Ball State was not; even in the MAC, it ranked in the bottom half of the league in practically all the major defensive statistics. But the Cardinals can score, ranking second to only Northern Illinois in total offense (471.3 ypg) and scoring offense (35.0 ppg). NIU was also the last team to beat Ball State, back on Oct. 6.
How UCF got here*: With an asterisk.* And by defeating every non-AQ team they faced with the exception of Tulsa. The Golden Knights even kept it close in their two losses to AQ teams, losing at Ohio State 31-16 and falling just five points short against Missouri, 21-16. Those two games and the pair of losses to Tulsa -- in the regular season and the Conference USA Championship Game -- are the only contests all year in which UCF didn't score at least 31 points. The difference is that the Knights do play a little defense, allowing more than 30 points in regulation just twice in 13 games. The only thing UCF is really bad at is net punting, which you can survive being bad at if you're good at other things.
College football fans care because: Because there's something to be said for rooting against a team that gets into a bowl on a technicality. (Even if you're likely to be disappointed.)
SEC fans care because: See above.
Watch this game if...: You've ever approached preparing your resume as a creative writing exercise.
The result: UCF 52, Ball State 37
Line: UCF by 7
(Record straight up: 2-1; ATS 0-3)