Quarterback Brady White struggled all day but hooked up with running back/receiver Antonio Gibson for a 6-yard touchdown, and No. 17 Memphis captured the American Athletic Conference championship with a 29-24 victory over No. 20 Cincinnati on Saturday in the league's title game in Memphis. The victory helped the Tigers make their case for the Group 5 spot in the Cotton Bowl.
White had completed only 17 of 39 attempts for 247 yards before his quick out to Gibson, who caught the pass in the right flat and ran the ball in. It was the second touchdown for Gibson, who scored on a 65-yard run in the first quarter and led the Tigers in rushing with a career-high 130 yards.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder, who missed Cincinnati's 34-24 loss to Memphis in the regular-season finale, moved the Bearcats to the Memphis 21-yard line in the closing seconds, but they failed to score.
Ridder was only 16-for-36 passing for 233 yards, but led the Bearcats (10-3) in rushing with 113 yards. White finished 18 of 40 for 253 yards.
Kicker Sam Crosa, a graduate transfer from Western Illinois, kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:23 remaining to give Cincinnati a 24-23 lead before Memphis' decisive drive.
The game could be the last at Memphis for coach Mike Norvell, who, according to reports, will be named to fill the opening at Florida State.
Special teams mistakes cost both teams in the early going. A roughing-the-kicker penalty against Memphis on a Cincinnati's successful field goal attempt gave the Bearcats a first down on the opening series of the game, and they cashed in with Michael Warren's 6-yard scoring run.
Later in the first quarter, a running-into-the-kicker penalty against Cincinnati on a punt denied the Bearcats possession in Memphis territory, and the Tigers cashed in on the mistake for their first touchdown.
--Field Level Media