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Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Cincinnati Bearcats: Military Bowl Preview

The Hokies take on Cincinnati Bearcats in the Military on New Years Eve. Here’s a look at a preview from the analytical side of things.

Tech’s got to repeat the UVA game effort
John Schneider - SB Nation

The wait it almost over for our last taste of Hokies football. In just four more days, Tech will be taking on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Military Bowl. The game gives us one more chance to watch certain players, but also may give us a preview of next season. However, goal number one right now is to show up and walk out with another bowl win for the Hokies. Check out brief overviews for offenses and defenses for Tech and Cinci...

Bearcats Offense:

Cincinnati’s offense is no joke. On the season, they finished 25th in scoring with 35 ppg and did it by running all over you. Cinci ranked top twenty in rushing and have one 1,000 yard rusher, one 500 yard rusher in their QB, and two other 400 yard rushers. They’re balanced, physical, and can beat you on the ground in a number of ways. This will be a huge test for Tech’s young front seven and will give us a glimpse of how they’re developing.

While their run game is what beats you, the Bearcats have passing game that compliments the run. Desmond Ridder (Cinci QB) has thrown 19 TD’s to only 5 INT’s and has the arm to stretch the field. Tech has to stop the run without stacking the box too heavily. If the Hokies front seven can block up the run, it’ll let us keep safety help and not get beat on the pass.

Hokies Offense:

Honestly, I don’t really know what we’re going to see. Tech ranks 63rd in rushing and 39th in passing, but that doesn’t say much. Some games they pound the ball between the tackles over and over, and other games we let Willis air it out. We don’t have an offensive identity (which I think was one of our issues this season), and it makes it difficult to predict what will happen. Near the end of the year, we found a little bit of stride in the passing game, so I expect that to be the focus, but we’ll see what Fuente has brewing.

Bearcats Defense:

26th in passing and 7th in rushing: This is a solid Bearcats Defense across the board and will make it tough on the Hokies. They don’t force a lot of turnovers, but suffocate the opposing O-Line and get a lot of sacks. They’re going to try and overpower the Hokies offensive line and force Willis to make quick decisions. If they succeed, it’ll make it hard to move the ball for the Hokies and will put a lot of pressure on their young defense. We’re about to find out what this young Hokies offensive line is made of.

Hokies Defense:

By the numbers, we’re struggling: 105th in rushing and 65th in passing. Based on that alone, Cincinnati should run all over us and score a lot of points. However, anyone who watched the last couple games of the season can see it’s a different team than they were at the beginning of the year. I expect Cincinnati to have success running, but I do think Walker and the front seven will slow them down enough to give the Tech offense a chance to keep up.

This games has the numbers to be fought and one in the trenches. However, I expect Tech to attack the passing defense of Cincinnati and let Ryan Willis throw to Tre Turner and Damon Hazelton. If our receivers make plays and our run game is relevant, we can win this game. I think the pressure is on the offense more than the defense yet again. With Dax Hollifield and Ricky Walker playing well, they’re going to cause trouble for Cincinnati. It’s up to Willis and our offense...