All the way back in August, we had no clue what was going to happen during the 2017 college football season. That didn’t stop me from throwing out some predictions about the Cincinnati Bearcats. Sometimes predictions go really well. Other times they do not. It’s rare that you get everything wrong and even rarer that you get everything right. I fell somewhere toward the former end of the spectrum, so maybe I shouldn’t keep doing this, but we can make that decision some other time. For now, let’s take a look at my preseason predictions and compare them to how things actually worked out.
1. Luke Fickell will get American Athletic Conference coach of the year votes
Scott Frost took a team from 0-12 disaster to 12-0 conference champion and unfortunate College Football Playoff snub. Even before Frost led the UCF Knights to the AAC title, he was named the unanimous coach of the year for the league. He parlayed all that success into a the head coaching job at Nebraska.
The only word in the above paragraph that matters is “unanimous.” That means Fickell did not get a vote. So we’re off to an 0-for-1 start.
2. Hayden Moore will start every game
This one came to pass. Even though Moore did not playing beautifully at all times, he was never surpassed by Ross Trail. He started in all 12 games for better or worse. It was mostly somewhere in the middle. Moore threw for a career-high 2,562 yards and 20 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions, while completing 56.4 percent of passes and producing a passer rating of 118.4.
3. Mike Boone will rush for 1,000 yards
Back when these predictions were made, we didn’t know Gerrid Doaks would come on so strong. The redshirt freshman’s play really ate into Boone’s playing time. Doaks rushed for 513 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry, reaching team-highs in both categories. Boone did lead the team in rushing attempts (110), partially because Doaks missed time, but he did not come anywhere near 1,000 yards. It’s too bad, because at his best and with a real No. 1 back workload, Boone would have gotten there easily.
4. Kevin Mouhon will have the most sacks on the team
I had high hopes for Mouhon, but he didn’t live up to them exactly. He did rank second on the team with 7.0 tackles for loss and he tied for second with 2.0 sacks. However, I was not expecting him to lead the team in sacks on a technicality-type basis, but finish among the top 10 in the AAC. Even the two more he’d need to lead the Bearcats wouldn’t have gotten him among the league leaders.
Instead of Mouhon, Marquise Copeland was the defensive lineman that broke out to some degree. He had 8.0 tackles for loss and a team-high 3.5 sacks.
5. The Bearcats will have four first-team All-AAC players (Boone, Mouhon, Cortez Broughton, Korey Cunningham)
The only first team all-conference player on the roster was punter James Smith. At the very least, Cunningham was on the second team, along with linebacker Jaylyin Minor, while Copeland was an honorable mention.
6. R.J. Potts will be the UC freshman everybody is talking about
It was clear the Bearcats would need reinforcements at linebacker. Despite very good years from Minor and Perry Young, there was still very little depth at the position all season. Tyrell Gilbert didn’t take to his new position as seamlessly as expected, and that opened up a starting job for a promising freshman. That freshman wasn’t Potts, however. Instead, Jarell White pushed his way to the top of the depth chart.
7. UC will win five games
This prediction really should have read “UC will not make a bowl game.” That’s the point I was trying to get across, but such a binary prediction seemed cowardly. With some hopeful that Fickell would squeeze out six or seven wins and get UC back to the postseason in one year, I foresaw more growing pains. Unfortunately, even I was too optimistic about their chances, which speaks to how disappointing a season it actually was.