ORLANDO, Fla. – No. 7 Cincinnati found itself in a four-quarter struggle for the first time all season and Desmond Ridder and the Bearcats showed they can take a punch.
Ridder threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores as Cincinnati defeated Central Florida 36-33 Saturday to head into the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings unbeaten.
The Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 American) fell behind 14-3 in the first quarter against their toughest opponent yet, but grabbed the lead by halftime.
“What a hard, hard-fought game,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “That is a really good football team, that on senior night gave us everything we could handle.”
Dillon Gabriel threw for 243 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Knights (5-3, 4-3) lost at home for the second time this season.
UCF took a 25-22 lead in the third quarter with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel to Marlon Williams.
"Burn this one, quick turnaround,” UCF coach Josh Heupel said. “We’ve got a trophy game (Friday against USF), our guys will be ready to play.”
The interception Gabriel threw was costly for UCF.