University of Alabama

‘It wouldn’t have been close’: Alabama football player wanted to face UCF for national title

Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, center, celebrates his touchdown during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship game against Florida on Dec. 3 in Atlanta
Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, center, celebrates his touchdown during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship game against Florida on Dec. 3 in Atlanta AP

The Central Florida football team spent the close of the 2017 college football season claiming it was the national champions. Had it been up to Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Knights would have had to put up or shut up.

Fitzpatrick told SEC Country he was more than game for the Crimson Tide to face the Knights after Alabama's championship game victory for the right to call themselves national champions. Fitzpatrick said that despite being beat up after a long season, his competitive side would have got him on the field for one more game.

“I don’t want anybody else claiming that they’re the champions when we’re the real champions,” Fitzpatrick said. “I would have went out there all busted up, beat up, strapped up, whatever I had to do, to go out there and show them who the real champions are.”

As far as a score, Fitzpatrick made it clear he thought the Crimson Tide would have rolled over undefeated UCF.

“Man, I’ll say, ‘50-plus to 10-minus,” Fitzpatrick said. “Man, we would have whooped up on them boys. It wouldn’t have been close.”

The Knights finished the regular season 13-0 but were left on the outside looking in with the College Football Playoff. Instead of having a shot at the national championship, UCF instead ended the year with a victory over Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

UCF finished the year ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll, with four voters slotting them at No. 1.

Despite UCF’s exclusion from the playoff, head coach Scott Frost and many others claimed the Knights were the true national champions since they finished the year undefeated, unlike Alabama. The Knights added a championship banner to their practice field, and the Florida house passed a bill to approve a UCF “National Champions” license plate.

For his part, Fitzpatrick had 60 tackles with one interception in his junior season. Alabama went 13-1 and capped off the season with an overtime win against Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Fitzpatrick is now preparing for the NFL Draft, which begins on April 26.

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