From UC: December 4, 2021
CINCINNATI –Led by three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Desmond Ridder and 187 rushing yards and two scores from junior running back Jerome Ford, the No. 3/4-ranked Cincinnati football team captured its second consecutive American Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday at Nippert Stadium.
The Bearcats improved to 13-0 for the first time in school history and put themselves in position to be the first-ever non-Power 5 team to be selected for the College Football Playoff at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Cincinnati made big plays on offense and defense, winning for the 27th straight time inside Nippert Stadium in front of a raucous capacity crowd of 37,978.
Ford was named the AAC Championship Game MVP after rushing for 187 yards on 17 carries with game-breaking touchdown runs of 79 and 42 yards.
The Bearcats defense allowed 216 yards in the first half, but shut down the Cougars after halftime, allowing just 120 yards and just seven points after the break.
Led by senior middle linebacker Joel Dublanko (two sacks) and senior defensive tackle Curtis Brooks (1.5), UC recorded eight sacks, its most since Sept. 20, 2014 against Miami (Ohio).
After entering halftime with a 14-13 lead, Cincinnati scored three quick touchdowns at the start of the second half to run away from Houston.
“What a special, special night,” Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell said. “What a game, too. I give a lot of credit to Houston. That is a really good football team. The way we came out in the second half…we weren’t going to be denied. The seniors stepped up right before we came out at halftime. Coby Bryant, Desmond Ridder and some of those guys stepped up and said ‘we are going to go out in the second half and take control’. They came out in the second half on a mission.”