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Simulating the Battle for the Victory Bell

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Ready rival one.

Cincinnati v Miami Ohio Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Rivalry week has come early this year, as the Cincinnati Bearcats will battle the Miami-Ohio RedHawks in the 123rd rendition of the Battle for the Victory Bell this weekend. This year’s matchup will take place at Paul Brown Stadium and, if the Bearcacts win, they will have come home with the bell 13-straight times and 57 times overall. (Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Bearcats would push their streak to 12 and their all-time wins to 59 against the RedHawks. The error has been corrected. Down the Drive apologizes for the mistake). Such a recent track record of success, not to mention the start UC got off to in the season opener, would lead you to believe that the decision for this game has already been made. We know that’s not true and that’s why we’re going to take a look forward.

The Battle for the Victory Bell started long before simulation and projection systems existed, but bringing the rivalry into the future is something we will continue to do because the Bearcats and RedHawks aren’t going to stop being rivals anytime soon. As we do every week, we will use one of those simulation systems to take a look at what to expect this weekend.

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 80-90 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.

Miami-Ohio 39 Cincinnati 24

This is eerily close to the final score I predicted for opener against UCLA. Just don’t think to hard about who I picked to win.

Anyway. In this first run of the experiment, there were 84 games played and the Bearcats won 44, just not this one. Gus Ragland throws three touchdown and the RedHawks offense, which got 357 yards from their quarterback in their opener, keeps humming en route to their first win of the season.

Cincinnati 17 Miami-Ohio 16

A 23-yard touchdown run from Gerrid Doaks puts UC ahead 17-13 and despite a late field goal, the RedHawks are unable to make up the difference. Doaks returns from his injury to reclaim the starting running back spot and does pretty well, logging 67 yards on 12 carries. Desmond Ridder throws for 233 yards and completes 65.8 percent of his pass attempts, but he only averages 6.1 yards per completion and is intercepted once. Still, it is a perfectly solid first career start.

As for the entire set of simulations, the Bearcats win 45 of 86 matchups and average 18.9 points per game. Miami averages just a bit less (17.8).

Miami-Ohio 24 Cincinnati 17

Rough sailing for Ridder, who looks much more like a redshirt freshman than he did against UCLA. He is intercepted six times and completes only 19-of-42 pass attempts (45.2 percent). The bright spots can be found in the backfield, where Doaks and Warren combine for 112 yards on 18 carries, and at tight end, with Josiah Deguara collecting two touchdown catches. Kahlil Lewis also makes a bigger impact than he did this past weekend, catching six balls for 60 yards.

Of 88 simulations in this set, UC won 46 times, once again averaging 18.9 points per game.

Miami-Ohio 27 Cincinnati 13

This simulation system doesn’t seem to believe in Ridder, or whoever plays quarterback for the Bearcats, as UC signal callers are guilty of two interceptions in a 14-point loss. Doaks is still the best part of the offense (eight rushes for 72 yards), while Warren only has seven yards on seven carries. I guess the computers haven’t caught up to Warren’s pending Heisman candidacy.

In this simulation set, the scores were closer, with the Bearcats winning 46 of 89 contests but by an average of less than one point.

Miami-Ohio 24 Cincinnati 10

Once again, this grouping of simulations expects a competitive decision, with UC winning 46 of 90 total pretend games. UC wins by 20 points nine times, but most of the games are decided by much thinner margins.

In this Miami victory, Ragland throws for only 150 yards, but he manages three touchdown tosses as well. James Gardner accounts for most of the production, with 10 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.

On the UC side, Doaks (97 rushing yards) and Warren (78 all-purpose yards) play as expected but four interceptions from Ridder slow the Bearcats down quite a bit.


So what do we take from these simulations? It’s tough to say because obviously since the rosters NCAA Game Sim is working with are not completely updated. After the Bearcats played so exceptionally on defense against UCLA, logic would lead you to believe this simulation is flawed. However, this same experiment ended with UC winning four of five sets a week ago and that wasn’t expected either. Plus, the wise guys aren’t exactly on UC’s side as it is. As always, we’ll have to wait until the weekend to find out what will happen in reality.