This won’t help with style points for Cincinnati.
The “no. 6 Bearcats remained undefeated, but it took an incredible finish to seal victory against a 3-5 Tulsa team. The Golden Hurricane flipped the ball to downs at Cincinnati’s 2-yard line with 1:14 left and down by eight points, but in the next game, Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder tinkered to give Tulsa the ball back on the line. 3 yards.
But four rush attempts in the middle all went in vain, including a rush from Tulsa Davis Brinn’s quarterback, who appeared to have the touchdown, but slipped early to be spotted a yard away. In the next play, Steven Anderson rushed through the middle and dived over the pile, but struggled to get back up and the Bearcats recovered in the end zone. Cincinnati won 28-20 to move up to 8-0.
When the game started, it looked like Cincinnati could flex its muscles on Tulsa. The Bearcats scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and kept Tulsa off the scoreboard by scoring a 14-0 opening lead. Tulsa responded in the second by scoring 12 with no response. Cincinnati scored 14 unanswered points in the third, but a fourth-quarter touchdown and a two-point conversion to 8:10 left in the Tulsa game made the game a 28-20.
Cincinnati only lasted six plays on the next drive and brought the ball back to the Golden Hurricanes, returning the ball to Tulsa on their 23-yard line with 5:28 remaining.
Tulsa had little trouble marching down the pitch, as it only took seven plays to get into the red zone. The Golden Hurricanes reached a fourth and fifth at the Cincinnati 6-yard line, but a 5-yard pass came just before Cincinnati regained possession at its 2 with 1:14 left.
But it didn’t take long for Tulsa to get the ball back right away, as an unsuccessful QB resulted in a fumble recovered from Tulsa.
Fortunately for manager Luke Fickell, his defense – and a bad decision – helped his side survive the late turnover. Running back Shamari Brooks rushed forward two to locate the ball at the 1-yard line with 58 seconds left. After a Cincinnati timeout, he rushed out with no gains. So Brin kept the ball but slipped to avoid the oncoming tacklers. He seemed to cross the goal line, but only after the slip, which spotted the ball where he started to go down, bringing the fourth down.
In the next play, Anderson tried to get over the pile, but failed, and Cincinnati recovered to keep the win.
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This isn’t the first time Tulsa has played against a top-tier team. In week 2, the Golden Hurricanes went to the fourth quarter leading the state of Oklahoma, which is now ranked No. 11, before the Cowboys scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to win 28-23. The following week, they traveled to Columbus and entered the locker room at half-time just 13-6 down to current No. 5 State of Ohio. However, Ohio State scored 14 points in both the third and fourth quarters to win 41-20.
Cincinnati had the added pressure of trying not only to win, but to do it in style. Despite the victory over no. 10 Notre Dame and an unbeaten record, the Bearcats’ American Athletic Conference schedule did them no favors as the College Football Playoff Committee put them behind five teams, three of which have already lost.
The Bearcats may have gotten a little boost this week. No. 3 The state of Michigan, one of only two undefeated teams ahead of Cincinnati, lost 40-29 to unranked Purdue on Saturday, almost certainly leaving the Spartans under the Bearcats in the next rankings.