This Saturday will be the 33rd all-time football meeting between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Tulsa Golden Hurricanes.
The first ever meeting took place in 1946 - Tulsa won 20-0 at home. 1946 was the Bearcats’ second under coach Ray Nolting and that season concluded with Cincinnati reaching their first ever bowl game (they beat Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl).
From 1951 through 1970, these teams met every year and Tulsa won 11 times, Cincinnati 7, and 2 ties. Tulsa and Cincinnati were both members in the Missouri Valley Conference from 1957-1969 and Tulsa went 10-3 against Cincinnati during that specific period.
They met another six times between 1973 and 1980, with Tulsa winning 4 of the 6 games.
There was a long hiatus in the series after the 1980 victory by Tulsa and they played again four times in the ‘90s, with Cincinnati winning all four games in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997.
That 1997 season was the end of a long bowl game drought that had started in 1950. Rick Minter was in his 4th year as Bearcats head coach. Cincinnati opened the 1997 season hosting Tulsa at Nippert Stadium in week 1. Tulsa was in the WAC and Cincy in C-USA.
American Athletic Conference
Tulsa joined the AAC in 2014. Because they are in the West division and Cincinnati is in the East, these teams do not play every year and as a result have only played twice as members of the AAC (2015 and 2016).
The first meeting between these schools in the AAC came in 2015 at Nippert Stadium. This was also the first meeting between the two since 1997 (also at Nippert).
Cincinnati won the game 49-38 to improve to 6-4 and clinched bowl eligibility, while Tulsa fell to 5-5.
Bearcats got 5 touchdowns from their running backs - 3 from Mike Boone, 1 each for Tion Green and Hosey Williams. In terms of yardage, Boone ran for 137, Green for 64, and Williams for 63.
QB Gunner Kiel completed 29 of 43 passes, throwing for 386 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 1 interception. WRs Chris Moore and Max Morrison caught the touchdown passes. Mekale McKay led all receivers with 101 yards (on 6 catches) and Shaq Washington led the team with 8 catches (91 yards)
One year later, Cincinnati lost 40-37 in overtime, to fall to 4-8. The loss to Tulsa would be the final game coached by Tommy Tuberville (let’s consider this loss a blessing).
Cincinnati actually led most of the game. They took a 31-21 lead into the 4th quarter and Tulsa kicked a field goal on the first play, to get within 7 points. With 6 minutes to go, Cincinnati added a field goal to extend their lead to 34-24 and it seemed like they would end the season on a high note.
Tulsa would put together an 11 play, 74 yard drive in under 3 minutes that ended with QB Dane Evans throwing his 3rd touchdown pass of the game to Chris Minter to get within 3 points.
With 3:12 to go, Cincinnati got the ball and all the needed was a couple of first downs to put this game away. They did get one first down, but stalled after that and were forced to punt. They did shave 2 minutes off the clock, but Tulsa got the ball with 1:19 and started on their own 12 yard line. Redford Jones hit a 22 yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, Cincinnati kicked a field goal on 4th and 1 to take the lead after the first possession. On third and 10, after two straight stops, Evans completed a 21 yard pass and Tulsa was inside the 5. On the next play, James Flanders ran it in for the touchdown and the win. The win gave Tulsa a 9-3 regular season record.
Hayden Moore threw for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns (caught by WRs Devin Gray, Jerron Rollins, and Thomas Geddis).