UCF finished the 2017 season 14-0 and was the only undefeated FBS program in the country. With a Peach Bowl win over Auburn to cap the season, the school decided to claim a National Championship. Each season there is a mid-major that makes a surge up the polls and gets a bid for a New Year's Six Bowl game. Which program has the best chance to make a UCF-like run next season? Here's the candidates and what they return.

Meet the candidates

UCF - Why not start the list with the program who did it a year ago? UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton returns along with his second leading receiver Dredrick Snelson.

Leading rusher Adrian Killins is also back for his junior season. UCF will have to replace multiple NFL players such as wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith and linebacker Shaquem Griffin. These losses might not even be as big as losing head coach Scott Frost to Nebraska. With that said, almost the entire offensive line returns and that will most definitely pay dividends. An early season showdown vs. FAU will tell us what we need to know about UCF in 2018.

Memphis - The Tigers lost to UCF in double overtime in the American Athletic Conference championship a year ago. Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. combined to rush for over 2,000 yards last season and both return. In addition, the defense will welcome back Curtis Akins and Austin Hall who were the top two tacklers on the team a year ago.

Head Coach Mike Norvell is one of the best in the country and will likely be headed for greener pastures with another good season in Memphis.

Florida Atlantic - Lane Kiffin has this train rolling and it'll continue into 2018. Though there is an open quarterback competition this spring, the Owls return key weapons. Running back Devin Singletary is back after rushing for over 1,900 yards a year ago and leading wide-out Willie Wright returns to anchor an inexperienced receiver corps.

Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who recorded 146 tackles last season, will control the defense with Rashad Smith, who had 99 tackles of his own. The defensive line, expected to be one of the best units on the team, make this defense ever better. As already mentioned, the Owls will play UCF early in the season.

Heading out west

Boise State - This kind of list should always have the Broncos on it.

Brett Rypien, who had an up and down year, returns at quarterback for his final season of eligibility. Running back Alexander Mattison returns along with senior wide receivers AJ Richardson and Sean Modster. It won't be easy losing the leadership and production of Leighton Vander Esch so that will be a point of emphasis for Boise State who is traditionally tough on defense.

Fresno State - The Bulldogs had a resurgence in 2017 finishing with ten wins compared to one in 2016. This is a sleeper who could make major noise in 2018. Marcus McMaryion is back at quarterback along with leading rushers Jordan Mims, two-sport star Josh Hokit, and Ronnie Rivers. Keesean Johnson may be the best wide receiver in the Mountain West Conference and returns after a 1,000-yard season.

The linebacker and secondary units remain mostly intact, too. The Bulldogs will need to replace a couple key starters along the offensive and defensive lines, but coach Jeff Tedford has experience and a quality coaching staff to get it done. Games versus UCLA and Minnesota could give the Bulldogs early attention.