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.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.