Cincinnati Bearcats (-3, 49 o/u) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
The respective records of the Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3, 7-1 American) and the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6, 3-5 ACC) might not be an indication of the result of this year’s Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland (December 27 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Bearcats are 9-3 on the season and have won seven straight, yet they are just three-point favorites heading into their game with the 6-6 Hokies. The reason? You never know which Virginia Tech team is going to show up.
Some weeks, the Hokies look like world-beaters, to wit, when they handed Ohio State its only loss of the season (35-21 in Columbus) or when they got by then-No. 21 Duke (17-16 in Durham). Others weeks, they can’t find the end zone, like during their losses to Miami (31-6) and ACC bottom-feeders Wake Forest (6-3 in 2OT).
With the Military Bowl taking place in Annapolis, the Hokies are likely to have a distinct advantage in terms of fan support.
“We expect that stadium to be full of maroon and orange,” Hokies associate head coach Shane Beamer said Sunday night. “We’re coming to you, and our players are excited, and I hope our fans are as excited about us being up there as we are.”
However, the Hokies faithful won’t be able to help the team defend Cincinnati’s dynamic passing game. Led by sophomore QB Gunner Kiel, who has thrown for 3,010 yards and 30 touchdowns on the year, Cincinnati is 13th in the nation in passing.
Even though his team is likely heading into a hostile environment, Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville is excited at his team’s bowl placement.
“The football game itself is just a minor part of it,” Bearcats head coach Tuberville said. “There’s not a better place to go than Washington D.C., spend four or five days and see some sights and understand our history in the nation’s capital. I’m looking forward to going myself, seeing some sights. It should be a lot of fun to see the Naval Academy.”
The Hokies do not have a great bowl history to their credit, going just 10-16 all-time and losing three of their last four. The Bearcats are 8-7 overall in bowl games, and 3-3 in their last six. They lost last year’s Belk Bowl (39-17) to North Carolina. That game took place in Raleigh, so this will be the second year in a row that Cincinnati will be playing in front of an unwelcoming crowd.
The last time these two teams met, the Bearcats edged out the Hokies, 27-24, in 2012.
(Photo Credit: Tech Sports (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)