Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman (Annapolis, MD): Cincinnati (10-2) vs Virginia Tech (6-6)
12 P.M. ET on Monday, Dec. 31. On ESPN
UC and VT have met 11 times all-time with VT leading 6-5. This will also be the 4th time these two have met in a bowl game, VT leads that as well, 2 wins to 1.
How They Got Here: Cincinnati
Cincy shocked everyone this year by starting off 6-0 and ending 10-2. They did a complete 180 from last year, where the Bearcats only won 4 games. They started the season off with a bang, they went into the Rose Bowl as 13.5-point underdogs and came out with a 9-point upset victory over UCLA. Their AAC Championship game odds took a hit with an OT loss to Temple but were not completely crushed until they got beat by UCF in the Bounce House. This team is one of the youngest in the country with more than 65% of their starts being underclassmen. Head Coach Luke Fickell has done an excellent job of turning this team around and quickly. QB Desmond Ridder, who took over for Hayden Moore in the 1st quarter of the UCLA game, is a RS Freshman who completed 62.5% of his passes and accounted for 2,922 yards of total offense and 24 TDs. This team’s strong suite is their run game and defense. As a team they rushed for 2.857 yards and 34 TDs, a lot of those yards came from RB Michael Warren II. The defense gives up 290 YPG and leads the nation in 3 and outs forced.
The Bearcats will only be missing Safety James Wiggins for the first half of the game due to targeting, everyone else will be playing
How They Got Here: Virginia Tech
Tech started the season with a dominating win vs FSU that moved them in the AP Poll from 20 to 12, but from there it was all downhill. They lost to Old Dominion by 2 TDs, then got shelled by ND, and followed that up by 4 games in arrow against conference opponents. Then VT lost their starting QB against ODU early in the season and haven’t looked the same since. They were in jeopardy of missing a bowl game, but instead a late rally and OT win against Virginia and a blowout win vs Marshall saved their postseason. This game will be the Hokies’ 26th straight bowl appearance, a streak that started in 1993 season.
Virginia Tech will have no players sitting out this game.
Player to Watch: Michael Warren II
Mike Warren II has rushed for 1,163 yards and 17 TDs. He is one TD away from breaking the school record. Against the VT defense that gave up over 2,400 yards rushing this season, Warren II should find some room to run and get out in the open.
Spread: Cincy (-6)
Cincinnati runs away with this game. Their defense is better, and their offense is good enough. This game will not be as close or a letdown like other AAC teams bowl games have been. Cincy wins 31-17 in Annapolis.