There is a new movie coming out this weekend. A little film called “Justice League.” Now, critical reception to other DC movies has been mixed (“Man of Steel”), not great (“Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), horrendous (“Suicide Squad”) and generally positive (“Wonder Woman”). That varied grouping means its unclear whether this movie will be good. What is clear, is the fact that this movie will make a lot of money. Some of that money will be coming from yours truly. I have been a DC fan since before I could walk, and you are damn right I am going to go see this as soon as possible.
However, if you can’t get to see it Thursday or Friday, a Saturday matinee may be the right move. Unfortunately, you will face a scheduling conflict as the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the East Carolina Pirates at noon on Saturday.
But there’s something we can do about that. We can fire up the simulation machine for the second-to-last time this year and project how this game will go before it even kicks off. Or you could just watch the game and ignore JL, but that doesn’t fit this introduction now does it?
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 Pirates. We can also adjust the weather, which calls for partly sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s on Saturday afternoon in Greenville, North Carolina according to AccuWeather.com. Here are the results of five simulations.
East Carolina 48 Cincinnati 42
Apparently an offensive fireworks display will be held at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday. Jimmy Williams gets his revenge against Down the Drive and catches two touchdown passes in the final period as the Pirates overcome a 35-24 deficit to claim victory. Gardner Minshew throws for 322 yards and four touchdowns on 24-of-46 passing and is also intercepted once, but he does not finish the game due to an injury suffered in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Hayden Moore matches Minshew in touchdown passes and actually finishes with more passing yards (341) on 24-of-39 passing. Mike Boone rushes for 90 yards and Devin Gray has 71 yards and a score on five receptions.
Cincinnati 46 East Carolina 27
Williams catches a 28-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter and the Pirates look to be on their way to victory, as they lead 27-16. However, Moore goes super saiyan and throws all three of his touchdown passes in the game during the last two frames as the Bearcats storm past and away from the Pirates. Moore has a miserable first half, but ends up with a somewhat pleasing stat line of 369 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on 25-of-42 passing. Gray and Kahlil Lewis each eclipse 80 yards and a touchdown receiving while Boone piles on 111 yards and two scores via the run. Minshew is intercepted twice and completes a paltry 20-of-47 pass attempts, although the Pirates still manage to pick up plenty of yards (329) through the air.
East Carolina 31 Cincinnati 7
Struggles running the ball and constant pressure hamper the UC offense as it can’t score again after going up 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Moore doesn’t throw an interception but is severely outplayed by Minshew, who throws for 315 yards and four touchdowns compared to Moore’s 220 and one. The Bearcats do convert 10-of-20 third down tries but finish with only 358 yards of total offense while Moore is sacked three times.
Cincinnati 54 East Carolina 14
The UC secondary comes alive and makes life hellish for Minshew, who is picked off five times. Tyrell Gilbert is the defensive difference maker, adding a sack to his interception. Moore comes up with one of the best games of his career. In a dream matchup in a fantasy football setting, he throws for 377 yards and a four touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing and also rushes for a score. Thomas Geddis makes some big plays (90 yards on three receptions) while Boone and Gray combine for three touchdowns.
East Carolina 24 Cincinnati 23
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to tight end Stephen Baggett early in the fourth quarter secures the one-point win for the Pirates. Painfully, the Bearcats fall by just the one point because of a missed PAT following a three-yard touchdown run from Boone on the first play of the final period. Moore throws for 308 yards and the defense records five sacks on Minshew, who only throws for 261 yards, but poor play in the red zone sinks the Bearcats.