Since they opened as 24.5 point underdogs this week, the assumption is we already know what will happen when the Cincinnati Bearcats visit the USF Bulls this Saturday. In all likelihood, the hosting and nationally ranked Bulls will throttle UC and the Bearcats will come home with another loss. It’s what happened last year and the year before that.
But its easy to make assertions when you just use “history” and “facts” and “reason.” What if you could glimpse into the future to make prognostications? That’s exactly what we do each week when we simulate UC’s game with the hopes of getting a feel for how things will play out. While not always accurate (our simulations indicated UC would beat UCF four times out of five last week), they are at least interesting.
Before we get started, here is the disclaimer. The simulation site used (WhatIfSports.com) has not updated to include 2017 football rosters. However, with some slight tweaks, we can at least form a facsimile of the makeup of the Bearcats and the Bulls. We can also adjust the weather, which calls for cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80s on Saturday night in Tampa according to AccuWeather.com. Here are the results of five simulations.
USF 38 Cincinnati 14
The Bulls rushed for 226 yards in last year’s game and they just keep on running, piling up 262 yards on the ground. D’Ernest Johnson is the biggest gainer, tallying 142 yards on 13 carries, while Quinton Flowers has 66 yards and two touchdowns. Flowers also throws for 242 yards and three touchdowns while completing 14-of-22 pass attempts. Hayden Moore and the UC offense are uninspired, accounting for all of 349 yards while Moore is sacked four times. Mike Boone at least has a decent game, accounting for 94 yards and a touchdown on 17 touches.
USF 26 Cincinnati 9
The Bearcats rush the passer well, sacking Flowers four times, but the offense stalls too often for this to be competitive. Moore throws for 225 yards on 15-of-28 passing and Mike Boone rushes for 99 yards, but the Bearcats go just 5-for-16 on third down. USF rushes for 218 yards while Flowers once again throws for a lot of yards (267) on few completions (13-for-17). Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants both make big plays, accounting for 153 yards and a touchdown on six combined catches.
Cincinnati 31 USF 24
Luke Fickell proves to be a master at making second half adjustments, at least for one week. The Bearcats trail 24-10 at halftime but Moore throws three touchdown passes after the break to lead an incredible upset. Moore throws for 285 yards on 27-of-38 passing overall and avoids being sacked altogether. Prepared for a heavy dose of running from the opposition, the Bearcats limit the Bulls to 3.3 yards per rush and recover a fumble in creating the lone turnover of the game. USF also manages only 364 yards of total offense in the losing effort.
USF 41 Cincinnati 10
The Bulls lead 24-10 at the half once more but they are the team that scores three times after the half to run away with the victory. Moore is simply dreadful, throwing four interceptions while Darius Tice (102 yards, TD), Flowers (85 yards, TD) and Johnson (76, TD) literally run up the score. Flowers completes less than 50 percent of his pass attempts, but throws two touchdowns and makes enough plays with his legs for it not to matter.
USF 28 Cincinnati 10
Flowers only has to throw the ball 13 times as the Bulls secure an easy victory. Valdes-Scantling still comes up with a big game, accounting for 105 of the team’s 146 passing yards. Moore does throw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Devin Gray early in the fourth quarter and finishes with 313 yards but he is also picked off twice. Boone rushes for 58 yards on 16 carries, but the Bearcats average only 1.9 yards per carry overall.
In all but one simulation, USF rushed for more than 200 yards, so expect a heavy dose of the ground game once again. You can also expect a loss and not a very close one.