With only two games left on the schedule, the Cincinnati Bearcats know exactly what they have to do to earn a bowl bid. Even if the puke-worthy offense has made it seem unreasonable that this team could still play in a postseason game, that chance still remains. Of course, the road to 6-6 is blocked by two difficult challenges, with a matchup against Memphis this weekend and a visit to Tulsa the next.
Looking forward to Tulsa is a fool’s errand at this point, as the game against Memphis will ultimately decide UC’s fate. To get a little bit of an idea about what that fate will be, we will once again turn to our future machine overlords and run the matchup through the simulator.
Before we get started, here is the disclaimer. The simulation site used (WhatIfSports.com) has not updated to include 2016 football rosters. However, with some slight tweaks, we can at least form a facsimile of the makeup of the Bearcats and the Tigers. We can also adjust the weather, which calls for cloudy skies with a 67 percent chance of rain along with temperatures in the low 40s on Friday night in Cincinnati according to AccuWeather.com. Here are the results of five simulations.
Cincinnati 27 Memphis 24
Although its tough to know who will start at quarterback for the Bearcats each week, we went with Hayden Moore for these simulations. Moore does a good job to lead the team to victory, throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns, as well as an interception, on 19-of-33 passing. His 27-yard strike to Avery Johnson early in the fourth quarter is the game-winning score. However, its Tion Green that carries the offense, quite literally, amassing 143 yards and a score on 16 attempts.
Memphis 33 Cincinnati 21
Its a very disappointing night out for the Bearcats, who let a 14-3 lead slip away. Green once again leads the way, rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Moore starts off well enough, completing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Nate Cole in the first quarter, during which he connects on 3-of-4 pass attempts. However, he is less efficient the rest of the way, completing 17-of-32 pass attempts for only 183 yards. His biggest error comes on the last play of the game as he is intercepted by Chaunce Lanier, who returns the ball 44 yards for a touchdown to cement the Tigers’ victory.
Cincinnati 38 Memphis 31 (OT)
Devin Gray returns to the role of target monster, pulling in eight passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns while Green mashes his way to two scores of his own as well as 111 yards on 17 attempts. Moore is also effective, thanks to Gray and Nate Cole (four receptions, 63 yards, TD), finishing with 329 yards and three scores on 25-of-34 passing. Riley Ferguson keeps up touchdown wise, but only throws for 235 yards. However, he orchestrates two scoring drives in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to even the game at 31-31 as regulation ends. In the extra period, Green scores his second touchdown of the contest, pushing UC to an upset victory.
Memphis 20 Cincinnati 17
A 42-yard field goal from Jake Elliott with just over a minute to play lifts Memphis to triumph. Its an ugly game from an offensive standpoint, with the two teams combining for 424 yards of total offense. Moore is sacked four times by the Tigers defense and that hurts his ability to get the ball moving through the air, as he passes for 216 yards on 18-of-33 passing, matching a touchdown pass to Gray with an interception.
Memphis 52 Cincinnati 34
Things start on an ominous note, as a UC punt is blocked and returned for a touchdown early in the first quarter. The Tigers then continue to pound the heck out of their hosts and lead 45-17 entering the fourth quarter. The Bearcats put up some offensive success in garbage time but ultimately never have a chance. Memphis does most of its scoring damage via the run, finishing with 193 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Big plays in the passing game help lead to those scores, as Ferguson only needs 14 completions to rack up 308 yards. Moore throws for more yards (319) but he is intercepted twice.
Obviously the cracks in this simulation exercise are showing. All but one of these results has UC scoring more than it has in the last three weeks combined. However, the lesson that can be learned is that Memphis has the edge and unless UC magically finds an offensive elixir, it will be a big one.