Antonio Gibson caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brady White with 1:14 left and No. 16 Memphis defeated No. 21 Cincinnati 29-24 in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday.
The victory marked the first time Memphis (12-1, No. 17, CFP) has won the AAC title in its third straight conference championship game. The Tigers now wait for an invitation to the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five team.
Eight days after beating the Bearcats 34-24 at home in the regular-season finale, Memphis rallied for another win.
Along with scoring the go-ahead touchdown, Gibson ran for 130 yards, including a 65-yard TD dash.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, who did not play last week against Memphis, passed for 233 yards and ran for 113 more.
The game became a back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter. Sam Crosa’s 33-yard field goal with 4:23 left gave the Bearcats (10-3, No. 20 CFP) a 24-23 lead.
On the Tigers’ next drive, Gibson caught two passes and ran five times, setting Memphis up at the Cincinnati 6. On the scoring play, Gibson was split right and caught White’s pass.
Cincinnati drove to the Memphis 26 on its final possession, but stalled.
Cincinnati: Ridder was key in giving the Bearcats a chance in the championship game. He was able to scramble more than backup Ben Bryant, who played in the first game between the two teams.
Memphis: White, a second-team all-conference selection, completed just 18 of 40 passes for 253 yards. Memphis was able to remain close with a pair of second-half field goals by Riley Patterson of 50 and 52 yards.
Cincinnati: Awaits bowl invitation
Memphis: Awaits bowl invitation