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Simulating Cincinnati at SMU

Following their first loss of the season, can the Bearcats bounce back against SMU? Let these simulations be your guide.

SMU v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Who could have seen the ending of Cincinati’s game with Temple coming? Even if the Bearcats and Owls played each other every week for eternity in some sort of Prometheus-style punishment scenario, it would be difficult to recreate the exact circumstances that led to UC’s first loss of the season.

Despite that fact, before last week’s game, we ran five simulation sets, and the five games we looked at from those sets did not tell us the exact finish, but it did give us some insight into what was to come. Each result called for a close game with little scoring and a lot of defensive success. That’s exactly what came to pass. Perhaps this week, as we forecast the results of UC’s visit to face the SMU Mustangs, we will get equally perceptive outcomes.

As I will outline every week, here’s how this works. I will run five simulation sets using NCAAGameSim.com. The site runs roughly somewhere between 30 and 80 matchups (usually) before providing a possible result. It also now has entirely updated rosters, so even though this is just an approximation, it’s a better one than year’s past. Now let’s get to the fake football.

SMU 16 Cincinnati 6

Apparently the offensive drought for the Bearcats will carry into week nine. In 31 simulations, the Mustangs won 18 times in this set while scoring 20 points or more on five occasions. UC only does so twice, although neither team does in this specific contest.

Back to UC’s poor offense. Desmond Ridder racks up 115 yards rushing, but is picked off once, while Michael Warren has his first subpar game of the season, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry.

UC’s defense comes to play though, surrendering only 16 points and holding SMU’s usually solid aerial offense to 230 yards on 15-of-39 passing. However, Braeden West runs his way to 132 yards and the only touchdown scored by either team.

Cincinnati 14 SMU 9

Our simulation program certainly thinks a lot of a SMU defense allowing more than 400 yards of total offense and 37.3 points per game. Ridder only throws for 100 yards, but he connects with Rashad Medaris and Warren on two critical touchdown strikes while the UC defense does the rest, forcing five turnovers and allowing 370 yards of offense.

SMU was still favored in the overall simulation set (19-14). Cincinnati only scored 20 points in two of the 33 total results.

Cincinnati 21 SMU 13

Someone scored 20 points! Ridder and Warren each run for 82 yards and a touchdown, while the former adds another score through the air, largely outweighing two interceptions. Tight end Josiah Deguara breaks out of whatever kept him from picking up big gains against Temple and tallies 117 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. SMU doesn’t turn the ball over in the losing effort, but fails on third down repeatedly and only has 161 passing yards.

Cincinnati 24 SMU 20

Woah. It is possible for both teams to score 20 points. Considering only seven of 36 total simulations featured 20-point games from either team, this is quite the occasion. In this sepcific game, UC runs out to a 21-3 lead and is able to hold on and avoid another collapse.

Warren runs well but doesn’t find the end zone, with Tavion Thomas and Ridder scoring rushing touchdowns as the Bearcats pick up 183 yards on the ground. Also of note, freshman tight end Leonard Taylor catches his first touchdown pass. Now that’s a bold prediction since Taylor has two receptions all year.

On the other side, the Mustangs try to throw their way to victory, but two picks and a 16-for-41 success rate ultimately does them in.

Cincinnati 24 SMU 17

The Bearcats must have taken copious notes against Temple because they nearly replicate the Owls’ comeback, rallying from a 17-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to stun the Mustangs. Charles McClelland scores on a 54-yard touchdown run midway through the final frame and Ridder connects with Warren on an eight-yard scoring strike on the last play of regulation.

McClelland ends up as the leading rusher for UC (75 yards on six carries), while Warren has 94 all-purpose yards (74 rushing, 22 receiving). Ridder is intercepted twice but finishes the game on a hot streak, completing five of his final seven pass attempts.


This week’s lessons are a little tougher to read. It’s hard to imagine that SMU will magically find a way to stop teams from pouring on points, so the final scores predicted above may be off. However, the Mustangs have gone 2-1 at home and have the same record in American Athletic Conference play. Maybe the notion that this game will be closer than expected isn’t that farfetched.