Friday is going to be a big day if you follow the Cincinnati Bearcats, with the men’s basketball team tipping off their season at noon and the football team mixing it up with the Temple Owls later that night. While the journey is always more enjoyable than the destination, if you are so impatient that you just need to know how things will work out on Friday you are 1) not alone and 2) in luck.
That’s right. It’s simulation time, where we throw two teams into a digital blender and see what comes out in order to get a feel for how Friday’s matchup with the Owls will go. Temple is coming off of back-to-back 10-win seasons, but is mired down in the muck of the American Athletic Conference this season, currently sporting a 4-5 record. UC is playing for its bowl eligibility, which remained alive (barely) after an escape act from Tulane last weekend. Let’s see who’s going to win.
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 Owls. We can also adjust the weather, which calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 30s on Friday night in Cincinnati according to AccuWeather.com. Here are the results of five simulations.
Temple 37 Cincinnati 27
Things start off pretty well, as Hayden Moore throws a 37-yard touchdown pass to Devin Gray near the end of the first quarter. However, on the first play of Temple’s next drive, the tide turns, as Isaiah Wright escapes for a 53-yard rushing touchdown, starting a stretch of 27 unanswered points. Moore finally stops the bleeding with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Geddis late in the third quarter, but its too little too late. Ryquell Armstead rushes for 153 yards to go with Wright’s 101 as the Owls run up 302 yards on the ground. Gerrid Doaks tries to even the scales, rushing for 121 yards and a score, while Moore throws for 311 yards and three touchdowns.
Temple 27 Cincinnati 23
A 24-7 halftime deficit crushes UC’s spirit and leads to the Owls’ victory. Armstead pounds his way to 145 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, with the Owls grinding out 225 yards on the ground, averaging 3.9 yards per attempt. Doaks is excellent as well, finishing with 167 yards and two touchdowns on only 16 carries, but Moore has an abysmal game, completing only 13-of-30 pass attempts for 120 yards.
Cincinnati 16 Temple 10
It really seems like Doaks is going to have a big game against the Owls, as he rushes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in this one. Mike Boone adds in 53 yards on the ground as UC wins the battle up front and on the scoreboard. The Bearcats only allow 286 total yards to the Owls, with Armstead accounting for 74 himself. Moore isn’t great (20-of-35, 235 yards, interception), but its nothing compared to the struggles for Temple quarterbacks, who combine to go 14-of-38 for 161 yards and a pick.
Temple 28 Cincinnati 15
If I told you Moore was going to throw for 308 yards on 30-of-50 passing, you might think the Bearcats would do enough to win a shootout. At the least they’d keep it close. That is not the case in this simulation. The problem is the Bearcats fail to capitalize in the red zone, relying on three field goals and a touchdown to score. Gray and Lewis both play well, with the former tallying 103 yards on seven receptions while Lewis has 96 yards on six grabs. The Owls win out with some big plays, as they average six yards per carry on the ground.
Temple 20 Cincinnati 19 (OT)
A missed extra point in overtime crushes the Bearcats. After Temple forces overtime with a 39-yard touchdown reception from Ventell Bryant at the end of the fourth quarter, Boone scores on a two-yard run on the first possession of the extra period. However, the Bearcats do not convert the extra point, which is why a seven-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood and a successful PAT is all Temple needs to escape with a win. Moore throws for 299 yards and a touchdown on 23-of-34 passing and Gray has 136 yards on six grabs in the losing effort.