Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech
When: 12:00 PM ET, Monday, December 31, 2018
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
MILITARY BOWL STORYLINES
ANNAPOLIS – Cincinnati and Virginia Tech will meet in a rematch of the 2014 version of Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, benefiting the USO, on Monday, Dec. 31 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Virginia Tech won that contest 33-17 but almost didn’t qualify for a bowl this season, needing to win its final two games – the last against Marshall in a contest that was added late in the season as a replacement for one postponed by Hurricane Florence. The Hokies beat Marshall 41-20 to earn a spot in the postseason bowl picture for the 26th consecutive season – the nation’s longest active streak and the third-longest streak in NCAA history.
Cincinnati has been one of the great stories of college football in 2018, improving its win total by six games after a 4-8 campaign in 2017. The Bearcats are going for just their third 11-win season in the program’s 131-year history and have an 8-9 all-time postseason record. Cincinnati returns to postseason play for the first time since the 2015 Hawaii Bowl and will play in its 18th bowl game all time – 10th in the past 13 seasons.
The two teams have met 11 times with Virginia Tech holding a 6-5 edge. Three previous meetings have come in postseason play – the 2014 Military Bowl, 2008 Orange Bowl and 1946 Sun Bowl. The Hokies hold a 2-1 edge in postseason matchups against the Bearcats.
TV: Noon, ET, ESPN. LINE: Cincinnati -6
ABOUT CINCINNATI (10-2, 6-2 American Athletic Conference): Quarterback Desmond Ridder, a redshirt freshman, was named the American Rookie of the Year, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 2,359 yards and 19 TDs while adding another 574 yards rushing along with five more scores. Michael Warren II, the Bearcats’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012, gained 1,163 yards, had a school-record 18 total TDs and a school-record tying 17 rushing scores while finishing with six 100-yard games – including four straight in the middle of the season. The defense is led by All-AAC first team defensive end Cortez Broughton, who ranked tied for fifth in the American in sacks (0.54 per game) and third in tackles for loss (1.46 per game), while punter James Smith pinned back offenses by ranking fourth in FBS by averaging 47 yards per punt.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (6-6, 4-4 ACC): Quarterback Ryan Willis has completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,497 yards with 22 TDs against eight interceptions while finishing third on the team in rushing with 321 yards and three scores. Wideout Damon Hazelton serves as Willis’ preferred target (45 receptions, 745 yards, eight TDs) with Steven Peoples carrying most of the running load (760 yards, 5.1 per carry, five TDs). Linebacker Rayshard Ashby was an honorable-mention All-ACC choice after finishing the season with a team-high 100 tackles, including 9.5 for a loss.