Coach: Luke Fickell
Cincinnati Players to watch:
**Sophomore P James Smith (6-5/225)
Smith leads the AAC and is No. 4 in the NCAA FBS averaging 47.0 ypp. The Bearcats led the American in net punting and rank No. 2 in the NCAA FBS (44.5). Smith had a career-long 72-yard punt against Temple and dropped 23 kicks inside the 20-yard line with 16 going 50 yards or more with only one touchback. Smith is an Aussie.
***Freshman QB Desmond Ridder (6-4/215)
Ridder, a redshirt freshman, burst onto the scene this year, starting 11 games, completing 62.5 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,359 yards, 19 TDs and adding another 574 yards rushing along with five more scores.
Senior LT Dino Boyd (6-4/300)
Boyd joined UC in late July as a grad transfer from Rhode Island and started 12 games at left tackle, helping block for an offensive unit which ranked No. 16 in the NCAA FBS averaging 238.1 yards per game and had the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012.
Senior DT Cortez Broughton (6-3/288)
Broughton really stepped his game up this year. He ranks No. 5 in the AAC in sacks and no. 5 in tackles for loss. His season numbers (6.5 sacks, 17.5 TFL) surpassed his career numbers entering 2018 (3.5 sacks, 10 TFL).
Coach: Justin Fuente
Virginia Tech Players to watch:
Senior DT Ricky Walker (6-2/304)
Walker has 30.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and 127 total tackles in his career entering the Hokies’ appearance in the Military Bowl on Dec. 31.
In 12 starts at defensive tackles this season, Walker has posted 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass breakup, two forced fumbles and a career-high 49 total tackles (23 solo).
**Sophomore WR Damon Hazelton (6-2/217)
Hazelton leads all Hokies with 45 catches for 745 yards, while his 62.1 yards per game receiving average ranks seventh in the conference. The Ball State transfer has posted three 100-yard receiving games for Tech in 2018.
**Sophomore P Oscar Bradburn (6-1/200)
Like Cincinnati’s Smith, Bradburn is also an Aussie. He ranks fourth in the ACC in gross punting average (42.2) and second in the conference with 23 punts inside the 20-yard line. The Sydney, Australia native has helped the Hokies allow only 184 punt return yards this season.
**Sophomore TE Dalton Keene (6-4/242)
Keene has had a breakout season for the Hokies, registered 19 catches for 302 receiving yards (15.9 avg.) to go along with three touchdowns. Keene has also played a critical role blocking in the run game and has started 23 consecutive games at tight end, dating back to last season.
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Cincinnati 35, Virginia Tech 31