Jan. 8, 2008
CINCINNATI -- After wrapping up 2007 with a 31-21 win in the Papajohns.com Bowl to complete a 10-3 season, the University of Cincinnati football team has been touted as the No. 17 team in country according to the Associated Press and No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
"This was an important season for UC football," said head coach Brian Kelly. "Our seniors changed the perception of the Cincinnati program. We worked hard every day and looking back on it, 2007 was a special year. The final polls are a prize for a job well done, but are also a starting point for 2008. It took us six wins this year to be ranked in the Top 25. I don't know that it will take six next season"
Cincinnati earned 10 victories for the second time in the program's 120-seasons of football, including a perfect 6-0 record in non-league play. UC's only other 10-win season came by way of a 10-1 record in 1951. Cincinnati defeated three Top 25 teams during the season and finished third in the BIG EAST Conference, at 4-3.
The Bearcats offense set single-season records for scoring (472 points/36.3 per game), first downs (283), and passing yards (3,720). The Bearcats defense also set a single-season record with 42 quarterback sacks.
Consensus all-America punter Kevin Huber ended his record-setting season leading all of the NCAA with his 46.9 yards per punt average. Behind the ballyhooed junior, Cincinnati lead the nation in net punting at 39.6 yards per kick.
Junior cornerback DeAngelo Smith snagged three interceptions in the Papajohns.com Bowl to finish the season with a UC-record eight picks during the season. Smith's eight interceptions tied him for the national lead.
Senior defensive end Anthony Hoke notched his 13th sack of the year in the Papajohns.com Bowl establishing a new program record. Hoke ended his final campaign listed sixth in the country in quarterback sacks.
The MVP of the Papajohns.com Bowl, graduate-transfer Ben Mauk
established a Bearcats record with 31 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. Mauk wrapped up his comeback season as the third passer in Cincinnati history to surpass 3,000 yards passing in a season, finishing with 3,121.
Redshirt freshman Marcus Barnett ended the year with a Cincinnati record 13 touchdown catches and finished second in the country among rookies in receptions (62) and touchdown grabs.
Cincinnati returns 16 starters in 2008, including all-Americans Mike Mickens, Terrill Byrd, and Kevin Huber. One of the Big EAST's top defensive units, UC shared the national lead with 42 takeaways, ranked 13th in scoring defense (18.8 ppg) and 16th in scoring offense.