2018 Military Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
Saluting our service academies.
From one of America’s most famous campuses comes the 2018 Military Bowl, and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies it.
The United States Naval Academy hosts this bowl and puts on a show with the salute to the flag, a flyover, and of course, a football game. This season, that contest is between the Virginia Tech Hokies and Cincinnati Bearcats.
Virginia Tech is fortunate to be in a bowl game at all. They were 4-6 and on the brink of losing the Commonwealth Cup to Virginia for the first time in
15 years. Instead, the Hokies profited from an astonishing Cavaliers meltdown, won the game, and smacked Marshall the following week to become eligible. Florida State’s vaunted bowl streak came to an end, but Virginia Tech’s did not, though very close. One would imagine they will seize the opportunity.
Cincinnati had a stellar second season under Luke Fickell. The Bearcats went 10-2 in a very top-heavy division with UCF and Temple. Coming off of a 4-8 disappointment in 2017, this was one of the surprise teams of the year. With a win, they’d have at least 11 victories for the first time since 2009. Meanwhile, a loss would amount to Virginia Tech’s first losing season since 1992. You would not think so much was riding on this game, but there you go. Which team wins?
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2018 Military Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Monday, December 31, 2018, 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT)|
|Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$2,066,990 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Cincinnati is a 5.5-point favorite|
2018 Military Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats
|10-2 (6-2 American); 3rd in American East|
|Best Win: Ohio|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 25th, Total Offense 25th, Rushing Offense 16th, 3rd Downs 8th, Time of Possession 8th, Turnover Margin 74th, Sacks Allowed 57th, Red Zone 105th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 7th, Total Defense 8th, Rushing Defense 7th, Opponent 3rd Downs 4th, Sacks Per Game 39th, TFL Per Game 57th, Interceptions 50th, Opponent Red Zone 28th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 130th, Punts Per Game 72nd|
2018 Military Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies
|6-6 (4-4 ACC); 5th in ACC Coastal|
|Best Wins: Duke & Virginia|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 59th, Total Offense 44th, Rushing Offense 63rd, 3rd Downs 91st, Time of Possession 59th, Turnover Margin 41st, Sacks Allowed 67th, Red Zone 7th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 85th, Total Defense 99th, Rushing Defense 105th, Opponent 3rd Downs 59th, Sacks Per Game 76th, TFL Per Game 38th, Interceptions 110th, Opponent Red Zone 22nd|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 102nd, Punts Per Game 39th|
2018 Military Bowl: Head-to-Head
These programs are no strangers to one another, having had 11 prior meetings.
Virginia Tech leads the all-time series, 6-5. 2014 was their last encounter, and that was a 33-17 Hokies win in the, you guessed it, Military Bowl. They also met in the 2009 Orange Bowl, which was also a Hokie victory, but their first bowl together was the 1947 Sun Bowl, a Cincinnati win. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 Military Bowl: Pick
On paper, Cincinnati deserves to be a significant favorite. You might even call this a mismatch, but you also cannot discount the fact the Virginia Tech knows what the hell they are doing as a program despite a lackluster 6-6 season. Justin Fuente is still a good coach and there is an expectation of getting to this point every year. Virginia Tech will be ready.
Cincinnati has the superior offense and the superior defense. One look at the Hokie defense and you would swear Bud Foster was not involved. He was, but his defense shed some key players prior to the start of the season. Virginia Tech fans are nevertheless used to a higher quality, but as a unit they had their moments.
Ryan Willis needs to be sharp for the Hokies if his team is to have a chance. Virginia Tech can move the ball through the air but Willis had a few sub-par games in November, which needs to change in the Military Bowl.
Cincinnati does not attempt many field goals and make far fewer, so if this comes down to the Bearcats having to make a kick, then congrats Hokies. Otherwise, a loss here would be a bitter pill for Cincinnati, who were consistent almost all year long.