Geoff Collins threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as No. 4 Cincinnati held off a second-half surge from East Carolina to beat the Pirates 35-13 on Friday in the American Athletic Conference title game.
The Bearcats won their fourth consecutive game this season, including 30-23 in the opener at home, and will next face either Notre Dame or Western Michigan on Sept 7 in Dallas. It will be Cincinnati’s fifth game at AT&T Stadium.
East Carolina (8-5) trailed 21-7 at halftime but threatened in the second half. In the third quarter, Kyrie Wilson connected with Quay Johnson for a 68-yard touchdown and Wilson added a 9-yard score.
Xavier Cooper added an interception and a sack to help hold off the Pirates’ fourth-quarter rally.
Cincinnati and East Carolina began play in 2011, joining the AAC. The Bearcats have won 10 straight against the Pirates, and there were other notable meetings, including in the 2013 championship game.
Cincinnati’s victory snapped a streak of six straight American championship games won by the Panthers.