The Cincinnati Bearcats will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2018 Military Bowl on Dec. 29. This will be one of the few shots the AAC gets a chance to prove themselves against a bigger conference. Here is the 2018 Military Bowl Preview.
Cincinnati Bearcats (10-2)
Luke Fickell has done a great job rebuilding the Cincinnati program, getting them to a 10-win season. The Bearcats were able to beat four teams that went at least .500 this season and only lost to bowl-eligible teams.
Cincinnati ranks 24th in the country in scoring offense at 34.9 points per game. They rush for 238.1 yards (ranked 16th) and pass for 220.1 yards (ranked 75th) per game.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder has provided a nice dual-threat in his redshirt freshman season. He has thrown for 2,359 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions on 62.5% completion. Three different pass-catchers have over 400 yards receiving this season. Kahlil Lewis leads all receivers with 55 receptions for 768 yards and nine touchdowns.
Michael Warren II has been a workhorse for the Bearcats. He has 1,163 yards and 17 touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry. Ridder has chipped in with 563 rushing yards, while backup running backs Tavion Thomas and Charles McClelland each have over 400 yards on the ground too.
Their defense is one of the best in the country, allowing 16.1 points per game which ranks seventh. They allow 103.8 yards on the ground (ranked seventh) and 188.2 yards through the air (ranked 26th) per game. Cincinnati has a good team defense, with everyone chipping in, but cornerback Coby Bryant has made an impact with nine passes defended and two interceptions.
Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)
The Hokies needed to schedule an extra game after a hurricane canceled one of their earlier ones, but they won to become bowl-eligible. They defeated three bowl-eligible teams in Duke, Virginia and Marshall. Their loss to Old Dominion was a huge upset and their only loss to a team below .500.
They are tied for 58th ranked scoring offense at 29.8 points per game. They run for 170.2 yards (ranked 63rd) and pass for 256.8 yards (ranked 39th) per game.
Ryan Willis took over for the injured Josh Jackson at quarterback this season. The former Kansas Jayhawk threw for 2,497 yards, 22 touchdown and eight interceptions on 58% completion. Damon Hazelton has emerged as a star at receiver for the Hokies. He has 45 receptions for 745 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Four other receivers have over 300 yards this season as well.
Steven Peoples has been the lead running back with 760 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Willis and Deshawn McClease both have helped with over 300 rushing yards on the season, but the rushing attack has not been as effective as most years.
The Hokies allow 30.7 points per game, ranking 85th in the country. This is odd for Virginia Tech, who usually has their defense as one of their strengths. They have been gashed in the running game for 206.5 yards per game (ranked 105th) and have also allowed 230.3 yards through the air (ranked 65th) per game. Rayshard Ashby has been great at linebacker for the Hokies with 100 total tackles on the season.
Cincinnati’s defense will come through in this game. With the Hokies not having a great offense and having a poor defense, the Bearcats can grind out a win by running the ball and playing defense. The Bearcats will also be more excited for this game, as the Hokies were expecting bigger things this season.
Cincinnati Bearcats 27 Virginia Tech Hokies 20
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