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Simulating the Military Bowl

There are predictions and then there are mathematical certainties.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the majority of surveyed experts expect that the Cincinnati Bearcats will defeat the Virginia Tech in Monday’s Military Bowl, that doesn’t mean that is what will happen. Obviously, until the game is played, nobody can be certain. But what if there were a way to find out what will happen before it does? What if you were not trapped by the passage of time as we know it? What if you could live out a very specific and college football-focused version of the seminal Nicholas Cage film Knowing?

Well none of that is happening either, but here are some simulations of the game.

As outlined every week this season, here’s how this works. I will run five simulations using NCAAGameSim.com, which has (mostly) updated rosters, so even though this is just an approximation, it’s a better one than we’ve had in previous years. Now let’s get to the fake football.

Virginia Tech 37 Cincinnati 17

Despite an average score of 23-14.2 in favor of Cincinnati during the entirety of the simulation sets, this specific version has the Hokies winning by a convincing margin. Virginia Tech quarterback Ryan Willis does most of the work, throwing for 408 yards, but the Hokies finish the job with the run game, as three different rushers score touchdowns. The Hokies’ defense is also well prepared, bottling up Cincinnati’s Michael Warren (43 yards on 16 carries) while forcing two interceptions from Desmond Ridder, who completes only 14-of-26 pass attempts.

Cincinnati 27 Virginia Tech 19

Now that’s more like it. UC’s offense still isn’t exceptional but that doesn’t matter when the defense holds Virginia Tech’s leading rusher, Steven Peoples, to 42 yards. The Bearcats also collect an interception from Willis, who struggles to get the ball moving down field, averaging only 6.1 yards per completion. Ridder isn’t particularly effective either, completing just 8-of-15 pass attempts. However, with the help of a huge game from tight end Josiah Deguara (three receptions, 118 yards and a touchdown), the Bearcats prevail.

Cincinnati 51 Virginia Tech 27

This is what we’ll call the dream scenario. UC’s defense is active and aggressive, forcing four turnovers from the Hokies, which gives the offense a short field to work with. Warren rushes for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Ridder accounts for four total scores (two passing, two rushing) while throwing for 230 yards on 60 percent passing.

Cincinnati 20 Virginia Tech 9

Warren runs for exactly 100 yards and one touchdown to pace the Bearcats. Ridder scores on the ground himself, but he holds UC back from an even bigger victory by throwing two interceptions and completing only 51.9 percent of his throws. Still, he nets 226 passing yards, with Kahlil Lewis accounting for 81 of them. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech stalls too much in the red zone, settling for field goals on all three trips as Willis tallies only 168 yards and a pick.

Cincinnati 14 Virginia Tech 10

The Bearcats are trailing 10-0 in the fourth quarter but they manage to mount a rally to pull off the win. The first UC score is set up by a long punt return from Aulden Knight. After the Bearcats force a three and out deep in Virginia Tech territory, Knight returns a punt 45 yards to the Hokies’ eight yard line. On the next play, Ridder throws an eight-yard touchdown pass to Lewis.

Time is running short, but once again, the Bearcats are able to get a stop on defense, with Virginia Tech stalling out near midfield. The Hokies punt and pin UC at its own nine yard line.

Cue the epic comeback.

Ridder drives the Bearcats 91 yards on 14 plays, completing 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards, but it is Charles McClelland who lands the final blow, scoring on a three-yard run.

Virginia Tech is only able to run three plays on its next possession before time runs out and the Bearcats begin celebrating.


So there you have it. Four out of five dentists recommend a victory for the Bearcats in the Military Bowl. Stay tuned for our full preview later today and on Monday for the game itself.