2014 Military Bowl Picks: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech Odds and Expert Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 12/20/2014
Cincinnati and Virginia Tech will meet in the Military Bowl. Cincinnati comes from the American Athletic Conference and Virginia Tech from the ACC. Virginia Tech pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year when they won at Ohio State, but they played some ugly football the rest of the way. Cincinnati was beaten badly by Ohio State and dropped to 2-3 after a loss to Miami in October. The Bearcats would run off seven straight wins to finish at 9-3. Virginia Tech went 6-6 in the regular season.
The Military Bowl is one of the newer bowl games. It has been around since only 2008. This bowl was originally called the EagleBank Bowl. However, after Northrop Grumman started sponsoring the bowl in 2010, it was renamed to the Military Bowl. Only one of the first six games in this bowl's existence have finished with a margin of less than nine points, so you have to assume that the bowl sponsors are hoping for a better game with this particular matchup.
Quick Lane Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech Story Lines
There aren't many similarities at all between these two teams. Cincinnati has a high-octane offense that can pile up the points in a hurry. The Bearcats defense was one of the worst in the country for much of the year, though they did improve a bit in the final weeks of the season. Virginia Tech's defense was solid all year long. The defensive unit single-handedly got the Hokies to this bowl game. Offensively, Virginia Tech was a disaster all year long. Cincinnati is the type of team that typically wins shootouts. Virginia Tech is the type of team that wins a lot of low-scoring contests.
Frank Beamer has been under a lot of heat this year, and there are plenty of rumors swirling around that his position isn't particularly safe anymore. Bud Foster has been bailing this Hokies team out for the last few years with his impressive defensive schemes. Virginia Tech confused newcomer QB J.T. Barrett in the Hokies stunning win at Ohio State in early September. The offense was expected to get a boost from Michael Brewer taking over at quarterback, but Brewer threw 14 interceptions and the Hokies could never stretch the field.
To be fair to Virginia Tech, this team suffered as many key injuries as any team in the country this year. The Hokies lost four offensive linemen, two running backs, and two key cornerbacks. Luther Maddy was the best player on the defense at defensive tackle, but he has been out since late September with a knee injury. Virginia Tech hit rock bottom when they lost 6-3 at Wake Forest in late November. The Demon Deacons were the worst team in the ACC this year, and for Virginia Tech to not even be able to score a touchdown on them all game was embarrassing. The Hokies completed a late comeback to win 24-20 over rival Virginia and become eligible for this bowl game.
Cincinnati's defense was ranked dead last in the nation in total defense after their loss at Miami. Though the Bearcats numbers still look bad, this defense has certainly gotten much better late in the season. Notre Dame transfer Gunner Kiel was just as good as advertised this year for the Bearcats offense. Kiel threw for 3,010 yards and 30 touchdowns despite missing some time with injuries in the middle of the year. Kiel is only a sophomore, and he has a very bright future ahead of him. He did a great job of stretching the defense with deep throws, and he was fortunate enough to walk into a situation where he has a ton of good receivers. Cincinnati hasn't had very many injury problems overall this year, especially when compared to the amount of issues that Virginia Tech has had.
Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Cincinnati was initially installed as a four-point favorite. The line has shifted slightly toward the underdog, and the Bearcats are now a field goal favorite. BetDSI opened the total for this game at 50.5 points. The total quickly rose to 51 points, and it has since stayed steady at that level.
Cincinnati definitely finished the season with some nice momentum. The Bearcats are 6-0-1 against the spread in their last seven games overall. Virginia Tech is 4-13-2 ATS in their last 19 nonconference games. Cincinnati is 2-5 ATS in their last seven bowl games. Virginia Tech is 1-4 ATS in their last five against a team with a winning record. The 'under' is 5-2 in Virginia Tech's last seven bowl games.
2014 Military Bowl Picks: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech Expert Betting Predictions
Cincinnati didn't play many good teams down the stretch, so their seven-game winning streak might not be quite as impressive as it seems. At the same time, Cincinnati has trended in the right direction for a very long time. Virginia Tech is fortunate to even be in a bowl game the way they played down the stretch. I don't trust the Hokies at all. Kiel and the Bearcats offense should make some big plays down the field, and Virginia Tech is unlikely to be able to score many points here. Lay the field goal with the Bearcats here.
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