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Simulating Cincinnati at UCLA

Cyberpunk 2018.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio) Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve waited through the long winter months as well as the beginning and swift exit of spring. Now we are enduring the final days of a sweltering summer. In all that time, there has been exactly zero Cincinnati Bearcats football. Basketball made it easy to go without football, until it didn’t.

Our patience will finally pay off this Saturday when the Bearcats visit the UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles to kick off their respective 2018 seasons. Or, if you are like me, you are still waiting for basketball season to begin the healing process from what occurred in March.

NOT NOW, PHIL!

Anyway. As patient as we’ve been, there is always the desire to jump the gun and get right to the action. While I can’t provide you with the first taste of year two of the Luke Fickell era or Chip Kelly’s first game as head coach of the Bruins in reality, I can do the next, next, next, next closest thing. That’s right, its time to simulate the matchup.

As I will outline every week, here’s how this works. I will run five simulation sets using NCAAGameSim.com. This is a new site for us, so its subject to change. The site runs roughly 20-25 matchups before providing a possible result. It also has more up-to-date rosters, although I should note that they are not fully updated for this season. Still, this is just an approximation anyway. Now let’s get to the fake football.

Cincinnati 17 UCLA 10

In our first simulation, the Bearcats win on the back of a nice effort from Gerrid Doaks. The sophomore running back rushes for 83 yards and a touchdown and is also the top receiver (five receptions, 84 yards, TD). That receiving score goes for 46 yards and proves to be the decisive blow for the visiting Bearcats.

Within the overall set, 19 games simulations were run and UC only won six times. UCLA won 13 times, with 11 of those victories by 20 points or more.

Cincinnati 37 UCLA 27

Even though the computers don’t love UC again (UCLA wins 15 of 24 matchups with an average score of 30.9 points), it doesn’t matter. The simulation of record goes to the Bearcats. Even more astounding is the fact that the Bearcats come roaring back from a 17-0 deficit. Once again, Doaks is the star, rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown, although he doesn’t impact the passing game as much.

Cincinnati 21 UCLA 20

Doaks scores on a five-yard touchdown run in the final minutes and UC’s defense forces a turnover on the ensuing possession to put the game away. Doaks rushes for 76 yards and a touchdown and the Bearcats somehow overcome five (!) interceptions from Hayden Moore, who does throw for 302 yards and rush for another 92. Kahlil Lewis makes his presence felt as well, finishing with eight receptions for 80 yards.

This was one of 11 matchups that UC won in a sample size of 26 matchups.

UCLA 20 Cincinnati 17

It was bound to happen eventually. The first three simulation sets all indicated UCLA had the far superior chance to win but the Bearcats showed heart on the digital gridiron. Yeah. Let’s go with that.

Despite 102 yards and a score from Michael Warren II, UC can’t overcome three interceptions from Moore, with UCLA scoring scoring on a two-yard rushing touchdown to capture victory, one of 17 in a sampling of 28 simulations.

Cincinnati 45 UCLA 26

In this set, UC only won a game by 20 points or more 13.8 percent of the time. While this was “only” a 19-point victory, it is evident that this is a highly unlikely outcome. That is unless Moore actually throws for 334 yards and four touchdowns on 60.4 percent passing as he did in this matchup.


Our final findings from this experiment seem to contradict each other. While UC won four of the five matchups above, in the simulation sets themselves, UCLA consistently came out on top, usually with double digit wins. I guess we’ll have to make a few more tweaks for next week. For now, enjoy the football and hope reality is as kind as the computers were today.