Cotton Bowl Classic | Alabama vs Cincinnati Predictions

Not many of the so-called experts are giving the Cincinnati Bearcats a chance in their matchup with powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide in this CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl. Cincy has bucked the odds all season becoming the first non-Power Five school to qualify for the playoff and the Bearcats are the lone remaining unbeaten team in the FBS at 13-0.

Even a perfect record wasn’t enough to get a Group of Five team invited to the party in the past, but things changed this year and Cincy just couldn’t be avoided. They aren’t getting a lot of respect positioned as a 13.5-point underdog in this tilt.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Cincinnati Bearcats Date & Time

The Cotton Bowl Classic college football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Cincinnati Bearcats will take place at ATT Stadium in Arlington, TX at 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, December 31, 2021 and will be televised on ESPN.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Cincinnati Bearcats Odds

Alabama -13.5 | Cincinnati +13.5 [BET NOW]

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Cincinnati Bearcats Over/Under

Over/Under 57.5 [BET NOW]

Odds Analysis

So far it looks like the oddsmakers got it right. Bama opened as a 13.5-point favorite and the line hasn’t moved. Facing a double-digit line is nothing new for the Tide, who closed as at least a two-touchdown favorite in each of their 12 regular season games going 11-1 SU and 6-6 ATS. For the first time in six seasons Bama played as an underdog catching 6-points in the SEC championship against Georgia. They went out and annihilated the best defense winning outright 41-24. Over their last 30 games when playing as a double-digit favorite Alabama is 29-1 SU and 18-12 ATS.

For the first time this season and just the third time over the past two years the Bearcats are an underdog. They were getting 7.5-points in last season’s Peach Bowl against Georgia only to lose 24-21 on a field goal in the waning seconds. Cincy closed this season on a surge winning its last three games by an average of nearly 24 points while covering the spread each time. Last season’s bowl game and a win at Notre Dame in Week 5 are proof that Cincinnati belongs.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama’s win in the SEC championship moved a lot of folks in the Tide’s favor. Facing a defense that surrendered an average of less than seven points, Bryce Young and his mates had no problem moving and scoring. That game likely cemented Young’s Heisman Trophy victory. Throwing for 421 yards and three touchdowns, Young led the Tide back from a 10-0 second quarter deficit to a convincing 41-24 victory. It was quite a turnaround after the team struggled to move the ball in a 20-14 win over LSU and scored just one touchdown in regulation in an overtime win in the Iron Bowl.

Young has over 4,300 passing yards and 43 touchdowns this season, but he’ll be without one of his top threats in John Metchie III, who tore up his knee against Georgia. Metchie leads the team with 96 receptions, 28 more than Jameson Williams. That doesn’t mean the passing game will suffer, though. We’ve seen a number of guys in the past step up when their time is called and the Tide have a bunch of talented receivers waiting in the wings. And after destroying the top defense in the country taking on a Cincy group that ranks fifth nationally in points per game allowed doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Is this college football’s version of the movie “Hoosiers?” Cincinnati is the little school from Hickory going to the big city to take on the big, bad Crimson Tide. Any sports fan knows how the movie ended. The Bearcats certainly belong and it’s not like they didn’t earn their chance at a national championship. They are the only team ahead of bowl season to go undefeated and they’ve lost just once over the past two seasons. That defeat was in last season’s Peach Bowl when Cincy was three seconds and a 53-yard field goal away from a stunning victory. If anything the remaining players remember that and want to flip the script.

We’ll hear the criticism about the strength of schedule, which we always do about a G5 program knocking on the CFP door. And there are some valid points, but if going undefeated was so easy whey didn’t other schools do it? The Bearcats are well-balanced ranked among the top-10 nationally in points scored and points allowed. Desmond Ridder ranks among the top-20 in passing yards and touchdowns and he has the mobility to extend plays with his legs. The defensive secondary is underrated and could present a problem for Young, especially with Metchie on the shelf.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats +13.5 and UNDER 57.5

Alabama vs Cincinnati Predictions

I’m pulling for Cincinnati because like a lot of people they are a great underdog story. And they’re a pretty damn good football team, too. It would be easy for Alabama to overlook them and a mistake if they do. If Cincinnati can pressure and disrupt Young in the passing game they have a chance since Ridder and the offense can keep the game close. I’ll take the points.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bearcats +13.5 and UNDER 57.5

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