If you have been very patient, you were rewarded this week, as you no longer had to wait for regular season Cincinnati Bearcats basketball. The women’s team began their year on Tuesday with a win against Austin Peay (Editor’s note: This post was originally written before the end of the Austin Peay game and was not updated immediately after. It has been now.) and the men will kick their own campaign off against Ohio State tonight.
If you are not patient, you already want to know how the year will end. That probably means you also don’t want to wait until Saturday to find out if UC football can beat the USF Bulls. I have both good and bad news for you, my impatient friend. The bad news is I can’t give you the answers you seek. The good news is I can give you an idea of what those answers might be. I’ll admit, its not that close to the same, but it’s what we’ve got.
As I will outline every week, here’s how this works. I will run five simulation sets using NCAAGameSim.com. The site 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.
Cincinnati 35 USF 17
From this article to whatever deity decides football games’ ears. We have a nice sample size helping in this set of simulations (240 games), which still lean in USF’s favor (145 wins), but implies a rather tight game. The entire set had an average margin of victory of 3.5 points. That’s much closer than the opening spread for this game, where the Bearcats were 12-point favorites.
In this particular simulation from the overall set, the Bearcats enjoy a stellar offensive game, scoring fairly easily from start to finish. Michael Warren scores twice (to go with 100 yards), Tavion Thomas adds a rushing touchdown and Josiah Deguara and Thomas Geddis each catch one of their own. Desmond Ridder completes 20-of-30 pass attempts for 203 yards, while his counterpart, Blake Barnett, is picked off twice while throwing for only 159 yards.
Cincinnati 17 USF 10
It would be no surprise if the Bearcats held the Bulls to only 10 points. UC is the 17th-best defensive team in the nation, according to defensive S&P+, and the sixth-best squad when it comes to allowing points (14.0 PG).
This game does lack for intrigue. Ridder is intercepted during a third quarter drive and the Bulls end up scoring a field goal to take 10-7 lead. On the next drive, Ridder dusts himself off and leads the Bearcats back down the field, completing 3-of-5 passes for 44 yards, including a two-yard touchdown toss to Warren. It’s an exceptionally clutch sequence for Ridder, who only throws for 125 total yards in the game. The Bearcats add a field goal later on and hold off the Bulls to win.
USF 31 Cincinnati 17
This is the worst timeline. Despite two rushing touchdowns from Warren, the Bearcats are easily defeated at home while the offense is left spinning its wheels and the defense crumbles in the red zone. The Bulls score all four of their touchdowns from the red zone and add a field goal, while the Bearcats only manage 315 yards of total offense. Warren accounts for 85 of those yards, but Ridder only tallies 126 passing yards and throws an interception that leads to a USF touchdown.
USF 24 Cincinnati 3
OK. Maybe this is the worst timeline. USF’s run defense is sturdy, holding Warren to just 3.6 yards per carry and a measly 79 yards on the ground. Ridder is heavily pressured and sacked multiple times, while throwing a pick and falling short of 200 yards passing. Kahlil Lewis does his part, catching four passes for 71 yards, but its a largely empty collection of receiving production, as the Bearcats get three missed field goals and one make on four red zone trips.
Cincinnati 35 USF 16
This would be a statement game for both the Bearcats and Warren. The sophomore running back destroys USF’s defense, picking up 172 yards and three touchdowns on only 15 carries. That equates to more than 11 yards per attempt. Warren also catches three passes while Ridder accounts for 221 total yards between the pass and run.
The final score doesn’t speak to the drama of the first half, however. Ridder is picked off following a Barnett rushing touchdown near the end of the first half that pulls the Bulls to within a point (14-13). Fortunately for the Bearcats, their defense stands tall and avoids allowing points off of a turnover. UC makes better halftime adjustments and runs away with the decision (literally) during the final 30 minutes.
A blowout win may have been predicted three times in these simulations, but that’s unlikely to happen for either side. The Bearcats should be prepared for a wildly competitive affair on Saturday.