MILITARY BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY NORTHRUP GRUMMAN STORYLINES
1. Virginia Tech will test its stingy defense against a high-powered Cincinnati offense, led by quarterback Gunner Kiel, in the Military Bowl at Annapolis, Md. The Hokies are allowing 20.4 points per contest while the Bearcats stand 13th in the nation in passing offense as Kiel boasts 3,010 yards through the air and 30 touchdown passes. Cincinnati looks to extend its winning streak to eight games and Virginia Tech needs a victory to avoid its first losing season since 1992.
2. The Bearcats have won at least nine games for the fourth consecutive season and attempt to win their third bowl in that span while avenging a 20-7 loss to Virginia Tech in the 2008 Orange Bowl. Cincinnati, which shared the American Athletic Conference title, is 8-7 all time in bowls after losing to North Carolina 39-17 in last year’s Belk Bowl. The Bearcats are averaging 37.1 points during their win streak, which began after consecutive losses to Ohio State, Memphis and Miami (Fla.).
3. The Hokies plays in their 22nd straight bowl game, the second-longest streak in the nation behind Florida State (33), and needed a 24-20 victory over Virginia in the regular-season finale to extend it. Virginia Tech, which is 5-5 all time against Cincinnati, won at No. 4 Ohio State on Sept. 6 before losing five of its next seven games. The Hokies are 9-12 during their bowl streak, 21-17 over their last three seasons combined and coach Frank Beamer could need a victory to cool off his seat for 2015.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Cincinnati -3
ABOUT CINCINNATI (9-3, 7-1 AAC): Kiel threw for six touchdowns and had just one interception in the last three games as the Bearcats kept rolling after a stirring 54-46 victory over East Carolina. Mike Boone leads Cincinnati in rushing with 601 yards and nine TDs while Kiel has five receivers who totaled at least 400 yards, led by Mekale McKay (42 catches, 690 yards, eight TDs) and Shaq Washington (61, 661, four). The Bearcats boast 32 sacks with defensive end Terrell Hartsfield (eight) and linebacker Jeff Luc (6.5) leading the way.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (6-6, 3-5 ACC): The Hokies allowed only 42 points combined in the last three games and senior rover back Kyshoen Jarrett has played a big part for an improved defense with a team-high 86 tackles and three interceptions. Quarterback Michael Brewer threw 11 interceptions over the first six games of the campaign and three in the final six while tossing six TD passes in the last four. J.C. Coleman totaled 311 yards rushing the last three contests and Isaiah Ford (53 receptions, 665 yards, six TDs) is Brewer’s top target.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 27, Cincinnati 24