The No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats remained perfect on the season, but they didn’t help their case with the College Football Playoff committee with a 28-20 win over the visiting Tulsa Golden Hurricane in an American Athletic Conference game Saturday.
Cincinnati (9-0, 5-0) kept Tulsa out of the end zone on six consecutive plays late in the fourth quarter.
The Golden Hurricane (3-6, 2-3) were close to scoring again late, but Sam Crawford Jr. was stopped a yard short of a first down on a short catch at the Cincinnati 2-yard line with 1:14 remaining.
However, Bearcats QB Desmond Ridder fumbled the next snap under center and Tulsa recovered on the Cincinnati 3. The Hurricane tried four straight runs but couldn’t score. On fourth down, RB Steven Anderson lost the ball as he was crossing the goal line. Cincinnati recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback and knelt down to end the game.
Ridder threw for 274 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) for Cincinnati. Alec Pierce had five catches for 113 yards with a touchdown. RB Jerome Ford had just 24 yards rushing and a touchdown and left the game with a lower-leg injury in the first half.
Tulsa outrushed (297-116)) and outgained (446-390) the Bearcats. Both Shamari Brooks (25 carries for 132 yards) and Anthony Watkins (15-105) rushed for more than 100 yards. Davis Brinn completed 17 of 26 for 149 yards and a score.
Up just 14-12 at the break, the Bearcats needed just seven offensive plays to create a cushion in the third quarter. Ridder found Pierce with a 12-yard touchdown on the fourth play after halftime for a 21-12 lead.
After Tulsa was stuffed on fourth-and-short on its 44 on the next drive, Ridder lofted a 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Young just three plays later to expand the margin to 28-12.
The Hurricane got back into it with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Brinn to JuanCarlos Santana. Brin’s toss to Crawford on the 2-point conversion cut the margin to 28-20 with 8:10 remaining.
The Hurricane missed several chances to make it closer. Tulsa lost a fumble on the Cincinnati 4-yard line late in the third quarter. Tulsa kicker Zack Long missed a 50-yard field goal early in the fourth.
Cincinnati appeared on its way to a rout early. The Bearcats led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter after two sharp drives. Ridder scored on a 3-yard run for a 7-0 lead, and Ford made it 14-0 with 1:21 left in the first on a 1-yard plunge.
But Ford left the game with a leg injury early in the second quarter, and the game flipped. The Hurricane got on the board with Zack Long’s 35-yard field goal.
Brooks scored on a 8-yard run to finish a 75-yard drive, but Tulsa missed the PAT to pull to 14-9. Long’s 50-yard field goal — a career long — cut it to 14-12 with 10 seconds left in the half.
–Field Level Media