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Simulating SMU at Cincinnati

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The last four weeks have been tough for the Cincinnati Bearcats. With losses in four-straight games, they have fallen to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in American Athletic Conference play. They will have a chance to improve both of those records this weekend when they host the SMU Mustangs for homecoming.

But, perhaps you are impatient. Perhaps you are tired of looking at that zero in the league win column. Perhaps you want to see what happens right effin’ now! My initial advice would be to take a few deep breaths, but if that doesn’t work then DTD can help. That’s right, its simulation time.

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 Mustangs. We can also adjust the weather, which calls for a mix of sun and clouds with temperatures in the mid 70s on Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati according to AccuWeather.com. Here are the results of five simulations.

Cincinnati 31 SMU 24

Grant Coleman ruins Ben Hicks’ day, intercepting the SMU quarterback twice. The pass defense still gives up plenty of yards (366) and Hicks does throw two touchdown passes, one of which goes to Courtland Sutton. It is Sutton who dominates the Bearcats, finishing with 107 yards on seven receptions. However, Hayden Moore leads a massive comeback, turning a 24-15 deficit into a 31-24 win thanks to two touchdown passes to Kahlil Lewis. Moore throws three touchdowns in the game and is aided by strong running from Mike Boone (126 yards and a touchdown).

Cincinnati 41 SMU 15

Lewis is exceptional, turning six receptions into 96 yards and two touchdowns. Moore also throws scoring strikes to Boone and Tyler Cogswell on his way to a 358-yard passing day. Boone puts in work in all phases for the offense, tallying 110 yards on the ground and 51 through the air. SMU only has one turnover, but averages only 2.1 yards per carry on the ground, while giving up four sacks. UC also doesn’t let the Mustangs have the ball very often, with more than 36 minutes in terms of time of possession.

SMU 38 Cincinnati 20

A six-yard touchdown pass from Hicks to Sutton early in the third quarter puts SMU up 24-0 and effectively puts the game away. Boone is bottled up and has only 58 yards while the Bearcats average just 1.9 yards per carry. Moore completes just a bit more than 50 percent of his pass attempts and ruins his three touchdown passes with two interceptions. UC also gets very little pass rush (one sack), while failing in pass protection, allowing six sacks.

SMU 31 Cincinnati 13

A difference in applying pressure divides these two teams. SMU has four sacks and UC has none. Hicks also outplays Moore, throwing for 320 yards on 22-of-31 passing, while the Bearcats’ QB has 288 yards on 17-of-27. Devin Gray at least has a big game, with five receptions, all of more than 20 yards. But he doesn’t do enough to improve a pitiful showing on third down from UC, which converts only 3-of-14 tries into first downs.

SMU 31 Cincinnati 30

Boone scores on a five-yard touchdown run as time expires in the third quarter and makes it a one point game, but the Bearcats fail to score in the fourth quarter. They have a chance, but Josh Pasley misses a 52-yard attempt in the final minutes.. Boone’s five-yard scoring run is one of the longest of the game for the senior running back, as he finishes with only 29 yards on 16 attempts. Moore is not intercepted or sacked at all, while completing 24-of-39 pass attempts for 325 yards and a touchdown. However, Hicks matches him (21-of-35, 322 yards, two touchdowns) and Courtland Sutton makes some key grabs.