On Jan. 1, the anointed four best teams in college football — all with one loss — will play in semifinal games for the national title.

Just missing out was another one-loss team, followed by a group of six teams — five with two losses and one with three losses.

That takes the list down to 12th in the College Football Playoff ranking, to the only undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision: Central Florida, which will take a 12-0 record into the Peach Bowl against Auburn.

By all accounts, Central Florida is big-time in everything but perception. At 66,000 students it is, by some measuring sticks, the largest university in the country. Its student population is bigger than 27 counties in Florida.

But the school’s athletic program is not large enough to be included in the so-called Power Five conferences: Pac-12, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Big 12. The Knights are members of the American Athletic Conference, which along with Conference USA, Mountain West, Mid-American and Sun Belt, make up the much-less-respected “Group of Five.”

The less prestigious conferences have found a glass ceiling that allows their teams little hope of playing for the football national title, or even of cracking the top 10 in the national ranking.

“It’s not a glass ceiling, it’s cement,” said Lee Corso, a former football coach who has been an analyst and commentator for ESPN for 30 years. “They are not going to break into it in their lifetime. It’s the money. The people who have it don’t want to share it with the people who don’t.”

UCF officials, and those of other group of five schools, certainly believe that money is the key factor.

“If you’re having to compete with someone that has a budget well north of $100 million and your budget is $40 million,