No. 7 Cincinnati stays unbeaten in 36-33 win over UCF

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Cincinnati’s quest for an unbeaten season continues after a 36-33 win over UCF.

The No. 7 Bearcats scored 14 straight points in the fourth quarter and took a two-possession lead with 7:15 to go when Desmond Ridder found Leonard Taylor for a TD. UCF cut the 36-25 deficit to three with 4:27 left, but Cincy’s offense chewed up the clock the rest of the way.

There was a scare at the end, however. Cincinnati simply had to snap the ball with a couple seconds left to try to end the game. But the snap almost went over Ridder’s head. Ridder was able to knock the ball down and recover it with one second left.

UCF’s final play went nowhere.

Ridder finished the game with four total touchdowns. He was 21-of-32 passing for two touchdowns and rushed for 57 yards and two scores. The Cincinnati offense racked up over 475 yards while the defense kept UCF’s prolific offense in check.

UCF had just 359 yards of total offense. The Knights entered the game averaging 619 yards of total offense through the first seven games of the season but had less than 450 yards for the second consecutive game. UCF had 419 yards of offense in a win over Temple a week ago after topping 680 yards in three consecutive games.

Cincy kept UCF to its season-low total by keeping the ball away from the Knights. Yes, time of possession is an overrated statistic, but UCF had the ball for just seven minutes in the second half.

Dillon Gabriel threw his first interception of the season, too. That pick came seconds into the fourth quarter with UCF leading 25-22. The Bearcats converted that turnover into a touchdown four plays later and never trailed again.

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder looks for a receiver as Central Florida defensive back Corey Thornton (14) pursues during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder had four TDs against UCF. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Cincinnati’s path to an undefeated season

The Bearcats are 8-0 for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 2009.

A 10-0 regular season looks like a good possibility with games against Temple and Tulane remaining on the schedule. Though the Golden Hurricane are 5-1 and currently ranked No. 25 in the AP poll.

Would an undefeated regular season and win in the AAC title game be enough for Cincinnati to sneak into the College Football Playoff? It doesn’t seem likely. Especially if there are two one-loss teams in either the SEC or the ACC.

Right now, Cincinnati has a tight grip on the Group of Five’s automatic New Year’s Six bowl berth. It’s not a bad consolation prize at all. But for a team like Cincinnati that will probably be in the top 10 of the first CFP rankings on Tuesday, it may be a little underwhelming.

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