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

Nov 6, 2021, 4:26 AM | Updated: 6:06 pm
Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA colleg...

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

              Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, center right, celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks (3) is stopped at the goal line by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) celebrates after securing a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, center right, celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks (3) is stopped at the goal line by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) celebrates after securing a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, center right, celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks (3) is stopped at the goal line by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) celebrates after securing a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, center right, celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks (3) is stopped at the goal line by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) celebrates after securing a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, center right, celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks (3) is stopped at the goal line by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) celebrates after securing a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor, center right, celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks (3) is stopped at the goal line by Cincinnati linebacker Wilson Huber during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) celebrates after securing a fumble in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa on aturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa quarterback Davis Brin (7) runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Tulsa safety TieNeal Martin (7) celebrates after intercepting Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford (24) runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
            
              Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford (24) carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Tulsa’s Steven Anderson fumbled as he was reaching for the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Jabari Taylor recovered for a touchback and No. 2 Cincinnati held off Tulsa 28-20 on Saturday.

Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, and Alec Peirce 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.

“Well, that was a wild one,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “It’s about winning against a team that is a much better football team than their record shows.”

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

“The snap slid right through my hands,” Ridder said. “No excuses. Shout out to the defense for saving my butt there.”

Anderson gave it back on the fourth-and-goal play from the 1.

“It’s a tough, tough way to lose,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “We get the ball back, we’ve got to get it in the end zone.”

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.

“Coming out at half, we knew we needed to push the ball more and get over the top,” Ridder said.

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. But Tulsa couldn’t punch it in at the end.

“We knew we had our backs against the wall,” Cincinnati linebacker Darrian Beavers said. “It was crunch time.”

BIG LOSS

Ford’s injury left a big void in the Bearcats’ offense. He finished with seven carries for 24 yards. Fickell had no update on Ford’s condition but said he considered putting him back in the game. “We talked about it but the confidence wasn’t there,” Fickell said.

WINNING MATTERS

When Fickell saw that his players weren’t celebrating the win in the locker room afterwards, he talked to them about not taking winning for granted and ignoring the focus on style points as it relates to the College Football Playoff. “Don’t lose sight about what this is all about,” he said. “Some people can strip the joy from you. I won’t do that as a coach.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane relied on the ground game to keep the Bearcats’ high-powered offense off the field, rushing for 297 yards. It was the fifth time this season that Tulsa has rushed for 200 or more yards. “That’s what they did to us in the championship game, they ran downhill on us,” said Fickell.

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. Montgomery said that shouldn’t matter. “Whether you beat a team bad enough or whatever, it’s finding ways to win,” he said.

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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, and quarterback Tom Brady celebrate aft...
Associated Press

Analysis: Tom Brady’s legacy goes beyond Super Bowl rings

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady had nothing left to prove. Already considered the GOAT — greatest of all time — Brady finally walked away from the NFL on Wednesday following the most difficult, emotionally draining season in his life. “I’m retiring. For good,” Brady said in a short video he posted on social media. […]
2 days ago
This image provided by the Broward Sheriff’s Office shows New Jersey Devils associate coach and f...
Associated Press

Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (AP) — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested Wednesday in South Florida and charged with driving under the influence. Brunette was pulled over in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to Broward County jail records. He was also charged with […]
2 days ago
FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles during warmups before an NFL football...
Associated Press

Reaction to Tom Brady announcing his retirement for 2nd time

Reaction from social media and elsewhere poured in after Tom Brady announced his retirement on Wednesday for the second time. Brady won seven Super Bowls and set numerous passing records in an unprecedented 23-year NFL career. He made his announcement in a short social media post. The 45-year-old Brady goes out after leading the Tampa […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

2nd ex-NC State athlete sues school in sexual abuse case

A second former North Carolina State athlete sued the school Wednesday alleging he was sexually abused by the Wolfpack’s former director of sports medicine under the guise of treatment. The lawsuit filed in federal court accuses Robert Murphy Jr. of improperly touching the athlete’s genitals and elsewhere between two separate occasions in 2016. The plaintiff’s […]
2 days ago
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Joshua Williams (23) intercepts the ball against the Cincinnati Benga...
Associated Press

Unheralded group of Chiefs get redemption in Super Bowl hunt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have some of the biggest names in the NFL, from Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce to Chris Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster, yet they’re playing in their third Super Bowl in four years largely because they refused to give up on players only their most-passionate fans know […]
2 days ago
FILE - This is a 2022 photo of Josh Sills of the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team. Josh Sills,...
Associated Press

Eagles reserve lineman accused of rape ahead of Super Bowl

CAMBRIDGE, Ohio (AP) — Josh Sills, a reserve offensive lineman for the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, has been indicted on rape and kidnapping charges that stem from an incident in Ohio just over three years ago, authorities said Wednesday. Sills, an undrafted free agent who appeared in just one game this season, was placed on […]
2 days ago
No. 2 Cincinnati holds off Tulsa 28-20 to improve to 9-0