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No. 6 Cincinnati Survives Upset Bid With Dramatic Goal-Line Stand

No. 6 Cincinnati's College Football Playoff hopes might be dependent 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 it could get against upset-minded Tulsa on Saturday, using a last-minute goal-line stand to eke out a 28–20 win and keep its playoff hopes alive. The Bearcats' defense stopped Tulsa three times from the 1-yard line, finally putting away the Golden Hurricane by forcing a fumble on fourth down that was recovered by Cincinnati in the end zone.

That stop bailed out Cincinnati's offense, which put the defense in that goal-line situation after fumbling at the 2-yard line with 1:11 remaining. The Bearcats got the ball there to begin with thanks to a fourth-down stop on the previous possession, and just needed one first down to ice the game. Instead, the defense was called upon to preserve an eight-point lead once again, and delivered for a second time.

With ESPN's College GameDay in town for the first time in program history, Cincinnati jumped out to a 14–0 first quarter lead and appeared to be in control, but the lead was trimmed to 14–12 by halftime. Two Bearcats touchdowns made it 28–12 at the end of the third quarter. 

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But Tulsa clawed back with a touchdown and two-point conversion with 8:10 left to make it a one possession game. That put Cincinnati's defense in position to play the hero role, and the group stood tall to keep the Bearcats' slim playoff hopes alive.

Much was made about Cincinnati's underwhelming No. 6 ranking in the first edition of the CFP rankings, which were released on Tuesday. At the time, CFP chairman Gary Barta pointed to the team's subpar strength of schedule as the primary reason the Bearcats were left outside the top four.

"The committee has great respect for Cincy. The win at Notre Dame was a really impressive win," Barta said. "When you look at who they've played after that, who else did they beat?"

Narrowly escaping an upset from Tulsa isn't going to change the committee members' minds, but the win preserves Cincinnati's chase for a perfect record. The Bearcats will look to improve to 10–0 with a road game at South Florida on Friday.

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