Oklahoma’s football team did enough on offense, and the OU defense clamped down when it counted most to beat Cincinnati 20-6 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, in the Bearcats’ first conference game as a member of the Big 12.
The six points by the Bearcats is the fewest by an OU conference opponent since the Sooners beat Kansas 41-3 in 2017, and the total combined points is the fewest in an Oklahoma game since a 16-7 win over West Virginia in 2013.
Oklahoma’s defense held Cincinnati to just 3-for-15 on third down conversions and forced a pair of Bearcat turnovers.
OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel was 26-for-38 for 322 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams had to punt on their first possession, with OU getting the only first down.
Cincinnati then marched to the first score, with the benefit of a pass interference penalty on Gentry Williams to keep the drive alive.
The Bearcats had to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Carter Brown to take a 3-0 lead with 7:39 to play in the first quarter.
Oklahoma moved the ball to the Bearcats 12-yard line, but on a Gabriel keeper, Bryon Threats knocked the ball out and Jack Dingle recovered at the Cincinnati 10.
The Bearcats couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and had to punt.
The Sooners then went 66 yards in six plays, with Dillon Gabriel passing to Jalil Farooq for a gain of 26.
The drive was capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel to Nic Anderson to put the Sooners up 7-3 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter.
After a Bearcat punt, OU was inside their own five-yard line, facing a 3rd and 19, and Marcus Major picked up 19 yards to keep the drive alive.
Gabriel passed to Drake Stoops for a gain of 35, and that set up a 34-yard field goal by Zach Schmit to give OU a 10-3 lead with 8:40 to play in the first half.
Cincinnati got into OU territory, with the help of a 40-yard pass from Emory Jones to Chamon Metayer.
On 3rd and 12 from the OU 26, Jones threw into the end zone and was intercepted by Key Lawrence, who caught the pass and fell out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback.
Three straight possessions after that ended in punts, and OU’s second punt in that sequence gave Cincinnati the ball at the Sooner 46-yard line late in the first half.
The Bearcats moved the ball to the OU 9-yard line, then Brown missed a 26-yard field goal wide left to keep the score 10-3 Oklahoma with 11 seconds left in the first half.
Oklahoma got the ball to start the second half but had to punt.
Cincinnati then moved into Sooner territory before the drive bogged down, and Brown kicked a 54-yard field goal to cut OU’s lead to 10-6 with 8:22 to play in the third quarter.
Oklahoma responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive to extend their lead.
Marcus Major gained 18 yards on a run, and Gabriel scored from a yard out on a keeper to put the Sooners up 17-6 with 5:23 to play in the third quarter.
Cincinnati moved the ball to the OU 20-yard line, but on 4th and 2, Emory Jones pass was incomplete, broken up by Kani Walker and the Sooners took over on downs.
On the first play on the ensuing possession, Gabriel went deep to Andrel Anthony for 49 yards to the Bearcats’ 31-yard line as time expired in the third quarter.
Anthony had 7 catches for 117 yards.
The Sooners had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Schmit to take a 20-6 lead with 10:59 left.
Cincinnati drove into OU territory again, but on 4th and 2 from the Sooner 40, Jones had a pass tipped twice before it was intercepted by Billy Bowman at the OU 26-yard line.
The Sooners went three-and-out and punted, then stopped Cincinnati on the ensuing drive.
Danny Stutsman tackled Emory Jones for a gain of 1 on 4th and 2 and OU took over at their own 41-yard line with 4:14 to play.
OU had to punt but gave Cincinnati the ball at their own 13-yard line with just 44 seconds to play.
OU is 3-0 all-time against Cincinnati, with wins in 2008 in Norman and in 2010 in Cincinnati.
The Sooners improve to 4-0 on the season and will host Iowa State next Saturday at 6:00 pm on FS1.