Cincinnati’s No.6 college football playoff hopes might hinge on how the Bearcats are able to rack up style points. But in the hunt to remain undefeated, no margin of victory is too small.
Cincinnati needed every inch they could get against the mind-shattered Tulsa on Saturday, using a last-minute position on the goal line to secure a 28-20 victory and maintain their playoff hopes. The Bearcats’ defense stopped Tulsa three times from the 1-yard line, eventually fending off the Golden Hurricane by forcing a fumble on the fourth down which was recovered by Cincinnati in the end zone.
The save bailed out Cincinnati’s offense, which put the defense in that situation on the goal line after fumbling at the 2-yard line with 1:11 to go. The Bearcats got the ball to start with a fourth save on previous possession, and only needed a first down to freeze the game. Instead, the defense was called upon to once again hold an eight-point lead and delivered a second time.
With ESPN’s College GameDay in town for the first time in program history, Cincinnati took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and appeared to be in control, but the lead was reduced to 14-12 at half-time. Two Bearcats touchdowns took him to 28-12 at the end of the third quarter.
But Tulsa recovered with a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 8:10 left to make it a one-possession game. This put the Cincinnati defense in a position to take on the role of heroes, and the group stood up to keep the Bearcats’ slim playoff hopes alive.
Much has been said about Cincinnati’s disappointing No.6 ranking in the first edition of the CFP rankings, which was released on Tuesday. At the time, CFP president Gary Barta pointed out that the team’s schedule was below average as the main reason the Bearcats were left out of the top four.
“The committee have great respect for Cincy. The victory at Notre Dame was a truly impressive victory,” Barta said. “When you look at who they played after that, who else did they beat? “
Slightly escaping a Tulsa upheaval won’t change committee members’ minds, but the victory preserves Cincinnati’s pursuit for a perfect record. The Bearcats will look to improve to 10-0 with a road game in South Florida on Friday.
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