No. 2 Cincinnati holds off Tulsa 28-20 to improve to 9-0

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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CINCINNATI – Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns and No. 2 Cincinnati held off Tulsa 28-20 on Saturday.

Alec Pierce had five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown to help the Bearcats (9-0, 5-0 American Athletic) extend the nation’s second-longest home winning streak to 25 games.

Shamari Brooks rushed for 132 yards for Tulsa (3-6, 2-3), and Anthony Watkins ran for 105.

When Tulsa was stopped short on fourth down at the 4, it appeared the Bearcats would just run out the clock. But Ridder fumbled on a sneak, giving the Golden Hurricane life.

On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Steven Anderson fumbled as he was reaching for the goal line, and Jabari Taylor made the recovery for a touchback.

The Bearcats beat Tulsa 27-24 on a last-second field goal in the AAC championship game last season.

The game Saturday didn’t feel like it would be that close when rushing TDs by Ridder and Jerome Ford put the Bearcats ahead 14-0.

The Bearcats had a rough series in the second quarter when Ridder was sacked twice and leading rusher Jerome Ford was helped off with an apparent left leg injury. He did not return.

Brooks’ 8-yard TD run capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive by Tulsa late in the first half and cut the Bearcats’ lead to 14-9, but the point-after attempt was missed.

Zack Long connected on a 50-yard field goal and Tulsa trailed 14-12 at halftime. It was the second straight week that the Bearcats led 14-12 at halftime.

Cincinnati outgained Tulsa 165-36 in the first quarter but was outgained 120-66 in the second.

Ridder and the Bearcats responded with touchdown passes to Pierce and Michael Young Jr. to go ahead 28-12.

But Tulsa wasn’t finished.

Davis Brin threw a 21-yard TD pass to JuanCarlos Santana and the 2-point conversion to bring the Golden Hurricane to 28-20 with eight minutes left.

THE TAKEAWAY

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane relied on the ground game to keep the Bearcats’ high-powered offense off the field. It was the fifth time this season that Tulsa has rushed for 200 or more yards.

Cincinnati: After relatively close wins the past two weeks against Navy and Tulane, the Bearcats needed an impressive performance to sway the playoff committee. But Saturday’s performance isn’t likely to move the needle.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 for the third consecutive week. But the Bearcats are more concerned with their No. 6 ranking in the first College Football Playoff rankings, which they felt was disrespectful.