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No. 6 Cincinnati vs. Tulsa matchup and 2021 CFB playoff implications for Bearcats win

The Bearcats flirted with disaster late against Tulsa on Saturday. How will that affect them in the next batch of College Football Playoff rankings?

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 9-0 on Saturday, clinging on for dear life to clinch a 28-20 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The Bearcats entered the halftime with just a meager 14-12 lead and after creating some cushion in the second half, they allowed the Golden Hurricane to sneak back into the contest late. Tulsa punched in a touchdown midway through the fourth to pull back to within eight and had two goal-line opportunities to tie the contest that were thwarted by the Cincy defense.

The Bearcats won the without the services of lead running back Jerome Ford down the stretch, who was sidelined in the second half with an injury. Starting quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and accounted for three touchdowns on the afternoon, but his fumble late in the fourth nearly proved disastrous. Receiver Alec Pierce had a solid afternoon, catching five passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Still unbeaten, the question heading into Tuesday’s release of the College Football Playoff rankings will once again center around where the committee slots the undefeated Bearcats. The big controversy surrounding the inaugural release last week was Cincy being slotted at No. 6 and effectively left out in the cold if the season ended today.

Chances are the Bearcats will once again get scolded for not outright burying a conference opponent and nearly facing the proposition of going to overtime with a now six-loss team. Fortunately for them, No. 3 Michigan State went down on Saturday, so there’s a possibility they could rise. But there’s always the chance of fellow unbeaten Oklahoma leapfrogging them.

Cincinnati will travel down to Tampa next Friday to meet USF, so that will be yet another opportunity for Luke Fickell’s crew to pick up an impressive win in prime time.