When it comes to bowl games it is hard to get a read on any one match up. There is a degree of randomness in the variables that leads to generally unpredictable outcomes. The sheer length of off time between games is sure to ratchet that up to an often absurd degree. Then there is the different styles of preparations that go into bowl games.
Some staff's pour all their heart and soul into developing new and innovative game plans. They will try things that they have never tried in the year that proceeded it. Some like to keep things very simple for their front line guys, so that they can use a bit of time on player development, and sometimes your coach won't be there for most of your bowl practcies, as Frank Beamer was absent from the first few weeks of the Hokies bowl prep.
You never really know what you are going to get in a bowl game, and that is as true about this game as it is in any other.
How To Watch
Gametime: 1 PM
National Radio: ESPN Radio
Cincinnati Radio: 700 WLW
Virginia Tech Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Radio Network
Announcing Crew: Bill Roth (play by play), Mike Burnop (color analyst)
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Mobile Streaming: Watch ESPN App
The Cincinnati Bearcats enter the game at 9-3 (7-1), Virginia Tech comes in at 6-6 (3-5). The Bearcats are victors of their last 7 games and come into the contest ranked 46th in F/+. Virginia Tech gained bowl eligibility in the final game of the season, beating Virginia for the 11th straight time. They are currently ranked 32nd according to F/+.
The Bearcats are 2.5 point favorties over the Hokies according to the line as it was checked last night at 9PM.
According to weather.com the forcast at kickoff calls for 47 degree temps at kickoff with a zero percent chance of rain.
For the Hokies the stakes are clear. Win, and they will avoid the program's first losing season since 1992. A win would also give them some momentum for next year with what is, by Virginia Tech standards, an extremely young team.
It's just as simple for the Bearcats, a win in this game and the Cats will have improbably managed to meet the expectations that were bestowed upon them in the pre season. 10 wins and a conference championship was what everyone was expecting, or at the very least hoping for.
A win in this game also does something else for the Bearcats, it puts them in the discussion for next year's group of five slot in one of the access bowls. That is where the Bearcats need to be, they won't make it every year. But they need to be on that short list yearly. Winning this game would put them there with the usual suspects.
The Big Matchup
The Bearcats passing game against the Hokies pass defense. I already covered this match up in detail the other day, It suffices to say that this is where the game will be decided. If the offensive line is able to keep Gunner Kiel upright Mekale McKay, Shaq Washington and Chris Moore will test the Hokies defensive backs in a way that no one else really has this year. I would expect the Hokies to bring pressure to test the health of Gunner. For most of the year Gunner has been good against pressure. Contrary to what Virginia Tech fans want to think one of Gunner's better qualities is his willingness to stand in the pocket and deliver the football under duress. He will have to do that today to give his receivers a chance in what will probably be a lot of man coverage.