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Virginia Tech football: A closer look at Cincinnati

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The Bearcats will present quite the challenge to Virginia Tech.

South Florida v Cincinnati
Cincinnati RB Michael Warren II
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Virginia Tech Hokies meet the Cincinnati Bearcats next week in the Military Bowl. It’s the second time the two clubs have met in the Military Bowl in the last five seasons with the Hokies defeating the Bearcats back in 2014, 33-17. Going back five more years, the Hokies defeated the Brian Kelly-coached Bearcats in 2009 Orange Bowl. Tech won that meeting, too.

Now, in 2018 it’s the Bearcats who are expected to have the advantage. At 10-2 on the season, Cincinnati is a team that is balanced on both sides of the ball. Cincy began the 2018 season with a road win at UCLA. The only two blemishes on UC’s schedule were losses to unbeaten UCF and to Temple in overtime.

The Bearcats are led on offense by sophomore running back Michael Warren II. Warren II ran for 1,163 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, including six 100-yard games. Led by Warren II, the Bearcats have the No. 16 rushing attack in the country, averaging 238 yards per game.

UC is efficient on offense, as freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder has been picked off just five times. At 6’4”, 212 pounds, Ridder can also hurt teams with his legs, too. He rushed for 563 yards on the season and we know the issues the Hokies have had with dual-threat passers.

Outside of Warren II and Ridder, the Bearcats also have two more capable runners in Tavion Thomas and Charles McClelland. Those two have combined to rush for 973 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Cincinnati has a tough and experienced offensive line, led by seniors Dino Boyd and Garrett Campbell.

Led by head coach Luke Fickell, the Cincinnati defense was one of the best in the country. The Bearcats rank No. 8 in total defense and are especially stout against the run. Opponents are averaging just 3.1 yards per attempt against UC’s front. Cincy’s starting defensive tackles, Marquise Copeland and Cortez Broughton, will present a unique challenge for Vance Vice’s offensive line.

This is the 12th meeting between the two schools with Virginia Tech holding a 6-5 advantage. The Hokies have won three of the past four meetings, two of which were the previously mentioned bowl victories.