SportsLocal Sports


Bearcats defeat Houston to become AAC champs

AAC Championship Football
Posted at 7:29 PM, Dec 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-05 11:18:09-05

CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati Bearcats defeated Houston 35-20 on Saturday at Nippert Stadium, securing the title of AAC champions for the second year in a row.

Now the Bearcats wait to see if they make the top four of the final College Football Playoff rankings — which will be released at noon on Sunday on ESPN. The Bearcats were No. 4 heading into the AAC title game and became the only undefeated team in the country after Georgia fell to Alabama Monday night.

UC’s win clinched its second straight AAC title and the school’s third since it joined the conference in 2013. UC has won five conference titles the last 10 years, including the last two seasons it was in the Big East.

The AAC title game gives the Bearcats another Top 25 win to go with their impressive Top 10 win over Notre Dame earlier in the year. Depending on what the committee decides, UC could get a rematch with Notre Dame in the playoffs, but instead of facing former Bearcats coach Brian Kelly, they would face their former defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman, who would be making his head coaching debut.

Cincinnati led 14-13 at halftime despite Houston having possession for more than 22 minutes.

But momentum shifted to the Bearcats early in the third quarter.

After a pass interference penalty on Marcus Jones negated a fourth-down stop by the Cougars, Ridder tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Leonard Taylor.

On Houston’s next play, Bearcats linebacker Joel Dublanko intercepted Tune and Ridder hit Alec Pierce for a 21-yard TD. Just like that, it was 28-13 Bearcats.

Ford had another long touchdown run of 42 yards, and within fewer than eight minutes, Cincinnati turned a one-point lead into a 22-point advantage.

WCPO will be airing a College Football Playoff special at 12:30 pm Sunday after the rankings are announced to break down the possible matchups. You can watch that on WCPO 9News on TV, online and on our Roku app.

Watch the post-game press conference below: