Kicker Sam Crosa booted a 37-yard field goal as time ran out to give No. 17 Cincinnati a crucial 20-17 victory over South Florida in a key American Athletic Conference clash Saturday night in Tampa, Fla.
The win clinched a share of the East Division for the Bearcats (9-1, 6-0 AAC), who can win the division outright by winning one of their last two games against Temple and Memphis.
The loss left the Bulls (4-6, 2-4 AAC) needing to win their final games against Memphis and UCF to gain bowl eligibility.
With quarterback Desmond Ridder struggling with his passing game (9 of 18, 78 yards) after injuring his shoulder early in the game, running back Michael Warren II rushed for 98 of his 134yards in the second half to rally the Bearcats from a 10-0 halftime deficit.
The Bulls looked to be on the verge of taking a late lead, but kicker Spencer Shrader missed his fourth field goal attempt of the game, a 33-yarder with 2:07 left, leaving the game tied at 17.
The Bearcats had two good opportunities to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. Safety Ja’Von Hicks forced and recovered a fumble at Cincy’s 49-yard line and then later a short punt put the Bearcats in business at USF’s 46-yard.
But the Bearcats didn’t even manage a first down on either ensuing series.
It was typical of the offensive frustrations the Bearcats experienced throughout the night. They simply couldn’t get out of their own way on offense in the first half.
Ridder completed only half of his eight pass attempts for 15 yards and was sacked four times, and the Bearcats rushed for only 31 yards in the first 30 minutes. They had 32 yards in penalties and were fortunate to be down by only 10 points because of USF’s long missed field goals.
—Field Level Media