In a rematch of last year's American Athletic Conference championship game, the Cincinnati Bearcats handed Memphis its worst loss in nine seasons to all but eliminate the Tigers from contention for a fourth consecutive appearance in the title game. Bearcat quarterback Desmond Ridder passed for three touchdowns and ran for a pair to help 7th-ranked Cincinnati improve to 5-0 (3-0 in the AAC) and end a five-game losing streak against Memphis. One of the top defenses in college football put the clamps on the Tiger attack, holding the U of M to just five yards rushing. The loss drops Memphis to 3-2 for the season (2-2 in the AAC). The Tigers were seeking the program's first win over a top-10 opponent since beating Tennessee in 1996.
Jason Whitman/Memphis Athletics
Freshman receiver Tahj Washington
took a short Brady White
pass and broke loose for a 92-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to tie the score at 7-7, but it was the last true highlight for the Tiger offense. A 13-yard run by Ridder and a 6-yard pass from Ridder to Michael Young made the score 21-7 before Riley Patterson
connected on a 42-yard field goal just before halftime.
The Tigers' opening drive of the third quarter ended on a fourth-and-two play from the Cincinnati 10-yard line when a White pass to Sean Dykes in the end zone fell incomplete. It appeared Dykes was held by a Bearcat defender, but no flag was thrown, giving the Bearcats possession. Their ensuing drive ended with Ridder's second touchdown jaunt, putting the game out of reach midway through the third quarter.
In passing for 316 yards, White became only the second Memphis quarterback (after Danny Wimprine) to top 9,000 yards for his career. Both Washington (104 yards) and Calvin Austin
(121) topped 100 yards receiving.
The Tigers return to the Liberty Bowl next Saturday when USF (0-4) comes to town. The Tigers handled the Bulls last season in Florida by the same score (49-10) as today's loss in southern Ohio.