After a 4-8 season in 2010, the Cincinnati Bearcats saw a five-game improvement in 2011 en route to a 9-3 record.
They improved dramatically on both sides of the ball, particularly defense.
The hard work in the offseason paid off for the players on the field, and the Liberty Bowl awaits.
There were a lot of players who improved and some who didn't progress like they had hoped.
Here are five players who surprised us, and five who need to step it up for the bowl game after disappointing seasons.