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Get Your Rear on the Record contest review

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

The curtain has closed on another North Texas football season.

The Mean Green finished 9-5 after falling to Troy 50-30 in the New Orleans Bowl. It was a great year for UNT and another significant step forward for the program under Seth Littrell.

Littrell has taken the Mean Green to back-to-back bowl games, something that hadn't happened since 2001-04, when Hall of Famer Darrell Dickey roamed the sidelines for UNT.

There are plenty of key issues UNT must face as the Mean Green look to build on one of the best seasons in recent program history. The early signing period starts on Wednesday, when UNT will get a jump on putting together its recruiting class. 

There's also the matter of potential changes with assistant coaches and any comings and goings with veteran players on UNT's roster.

But before we get to all that, let's start with the important stuff — the annual Get Your Rear on the Record contest.

Our loyal readers know the drill. We ask for records picks before the season begins and require names, hence the idea of getting you're reason on the record.

Today is the day we pull them all out and declare the winner, who this year is ... drum roll please ... Scott Case.

Scott correctly predicted UNT to go 9-5. In his honor, we give you this and invite Scott to take a victory lap around his office, or wherever he is reading this.

UNT fans were an optimistic bunch heading into the season. Only six people picked UNT to finish with a losing record. That optimism turned out to be justified. 

There are always people who go overboard, though, and that brings us to Mark Beaty who is this year's Ridiculous Homer for picking UNT to finish 12-1.

James Schaefter and Adam Rosenfield picked UNT to go 4-8 and are this year's Fans with Little Faith.

So where did myself and everyone else come in? Here's the original story, where I laid out the reasons I picked UNT to finish 7-6.

I picked UNT to finish with a winning record largely because of the job Littrell did in his debut season, the return of quarterback Mason Fine and running back Jeffery Wilson and what seemed to be a favorable schedule with just one Body Bag/Opportunity game.

Fine was pretty good as a freshman . It only stood to reason that he would get better. He ended up being terrific on his way to throwing for 4,052 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was the Offensive Player of the Year in Conference USA.

Wilson enjoyed a great career at UNT, despite injury problems that hampered him. He lasted 11 games as a senior before suffering a season-ending foot injury and rushed for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Fine and Wilson helped UNT take advantage of a favorable schedule with only one game against a Power Five program in Iowa.

There were a host of concerns that prevented me from picking UNT to finish with more than seven wins, including the fact the Mean Green didn't have anything in the way of a proven or even highly recruited quarterback backing up Fine.

Fine was knocked out for the season as a freshman and isn't the biggest guy at 5-11, 180. UNT got along just fine without him in 2016 because it had Alabama transfer Alec Morris ready to step in.

UNT didn't have that safety net this year and went into the season with former walk-on Quinn Shanbour sitting second on its depth chart. It looked like a disaster in the making considering Fine was playing behind what appeared as if it might be a shaky offensive line.

Fine was pounded at times throughout the season, but only had to come out of one game, a loss to Iowa.

Having Fine make it through the season healthy was huge.

Depth on the offensive line and at linebacker were two other concerns I pointed out. The Mean Green managed to stay pretty healthy in both spots and linebacker Colton McDonald was a terrific find as a graduate transfer from West Texas A&M.

McDonald ended up starting six games and made 39 tackles. His 56-yard fumble return in the New Orleans Bowl kept UNT in the game before Troy eventually recovered to blow the Mean Green out.

The other factor I pointed to as a potential pitfall was the number of games that looked like 50-50 propositions for UNT. Teams tend to lose as many of those games they win. At the beginning of the year, it looked like games against Southern Miss, Texas-San Antonio, Florida Atlantic, Army and Rice all fell into that 50-50 category.

What we didn't know then was that Lane Kiffin really is that good of a head coach and that he had quietly stacked up a ton of talent at FAU. We also didn't know that UAB would end up being as good as it is. UNT was smoked by FAU twice and ended up pulling out a close game against UAB.

What it all amounted to was that UNT had arguably six 50-50 games -- UAB, Southern Miss, UTSA, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech and Army -- and won them all.

UNT was also 5-0 in one-score games. Even teams that are well coached and lucky don't go often win every single close game they play in.

The Mean Green made a series of key plays and probably caught a few favorable bounces along the way.

It's always fun to look back and see who was right, who was wrong and who came close.

Here's what everyone projected: 

12-1 -- Mark Beaty

11-2 -- Miguel Robinson

10-3 -- Curt Norman, Pete Porter

9-5 -- Scott Case

8-5 -- Austin Rodgers, Samuel Peters, Wyatt McCollum, Mark Gatson, Brian Martin, Daryn Foyt, Ron Wesson, Jordan Davis (TheReal_JD), Tony DeSousa (bstnsportsfan3), Venson Herron, Von Eaglin, Jeff Pergoia

8-4 --  Jeff Hale, Ed Collopy

7-6 -- Brett Vito, Greg Everly, Travis Miller, John Roden, Jim Hull (LongJim), Tyler Maryak, Paul Nordstrom, Scott Davis, Greg Wagner, Rex Winn, Greg Warner, Scott Campbell, Aldo Avina, Nick Moore, Chuck Linck, Bobby Gibbons (ForneyGreen), Rogers Cadenhead, Matt McCombs, Jason Howeth, Jack Highfill, Matt Turney, Blane Parrish

7-5 -- Jared Morris, Thomas Crothers (EagleMBA), John Davidson, Rob Hundall

6-7 -- Lee Hughes (3XNNTGrad), Bryan Graves, Joe Eckstein, John Lowe (Ealge83), Patrick McMullen, Jeff Cameron, Joel Villanueva, Sean Hiatt, Robert Botts, Gavin Doolittle, Lee Moses, Cody Valle, Lance Ragland, Joe Holland

6-6 -- Kevin Cozort, Joe Eckstein (NCMeanGreen), Ben Gooding, Harry Miers, Rick Ashwander, Carolyn Edge

5-7 -- Adolfo Flores Jr. (Got5onit), Thomas Coe, Kellen Jemeyson, Jason Peacock

4-8 -- James Schaefter, Adam Rosenfield

FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas quarterback Mason Fine throws a pass during the Mean Green's 50-30 loss to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)