Elvis Presley music is what was hot in the streets the last time the Cincinnati Bearcats played the Navy Midshipmen. That’s right, its been just under 61 years since the last showdown between these teams, which took place on Oct. 20, 1956. Navy won the game 13-7.
We now live in a world where pop artist beefs and Beyonce, long may she reign, rule the music world. We also live in a world where we can simulate college football games all day long. With the Bearcats scheduled to play the Midshipmen in Annapolis, Maryland for the first time in American Athletic Conference play, it’s time to blast “Lemonade” and punch some keyboard buttons to get a feel for what to expect.
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 Midshipmen. We can also adjust the weather, which calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s on Saturday afternoon in Annapolis according to AccuWeather.com. Here are the results of five simulations.
Navy 17 Cincinnati 11
The issues in the kicking game continue and lose the game for the Bearcats, who fall by six points in a game when Josh Pasley misses two field goals. Hayden Moore throws for 230 yards and a touchdown, as Devin Gray finally has a good game, catching five passes for 67 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Moore only completes 19-of-42 pass attempts and Navy’s run-heavy offense piles up 320 yards and averages 5.9 yards per carry. Cincinnati really squanders this one, though, as it has more first downs (26-15) and holds Navy to just one pass completion.
Navy 27 Cincinnati 20
A strong start is ruined by a burst of big runs from Navy. The Bearcats take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Kahlil Lewis and lead 10-3 with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Chris High begins a scoring binge for the Midshipmen from there, scoring from five yards out less than two minutes later. Runs of 66 yards and 25 yards from Darryl Bonner and Joshua Walker, respectively, lead to touchdowns and allow Navy to leap to a 27-10 lead, which it never relinquishes.
Cincinnati 36 Navy 13
Going up 22-0 quickly in the first half on running from Mike Boone and electric touchdown passes to Lewis (75 yards) and Gray (53 yards), the Bearcats easily win this one. Boone rushes for 136 yards and Lewis and Gray each finish with more than 100 yards receiving. Moore is intercepted twice, but he completes 21-of-34 pass attempts for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Jaylyin Minor records his first sack of the season, while Navy still rushes for 277 yards but earns only 11 first downs.
Cincinnati 35 Navy 31 (OT)
A back-and-forth game to the end, Cincinnati wins on a two-yard touchdown run from Boone after Navy settles for a field goal in the extra session. Cincinnati could have just won the game outright if it weren’t for a three-yard scoring dash from Bonner with 13 seconds left in regulation. Boone has a huge game and carries the load very literally, racking up 142 yards on 33 carries to go with two touchdowns. Moore completes 20-of-33 pass attempts for 250 yards and a touchdown to Gray and Thomas Geddis. Chris High rushes for 109 yards for Navy, which also gets three touchdowns from Walker.
Navy 27 Cincinnati 24
A touchdown pass to Lewis with less than a minute to play ends up being for nigh as the Bearcats fail to recover an onside kick afterward. While Zach Abey (74 yards) and High (51 yards) are both held in check to an extent, Walker bursts for 110 yards on 12 carries, highlighted by a 73-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. On the UC side, Moore throws for 316 yards and two scores on 24-of-40 passing and is intercepted once, while Lewis has two touchdown catches. Boone adds 54 yards and a score on 19 carries.
Our simulation program seems to pin this game as a close one, which is surprising considering Navy is 2-0 and in the midst of running one of the most efficient programs in the country, having won at least eight games in 13 of the last 14 years. Abey is new at quarterback, a key part of the triple-option offense as he must make decisions on the fly about who carries the ball, and UC has a strong defense so its possible Navy won’t just run to victory, if they win at all.