We’ve finally reached the College Football Playoff on New Year’s Eve! The first semifinal matchup will emanate from the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, where the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will battle the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Alabama (12-1) returns to the CFP for a seventh time and is looking to make its sixth title game during the playoff era. The 2021 Crimson Tide weren’t as dominant as last year’s title team, but still got the job done when it counted the most.
The team looked its most vulnerable for three and a half quarters against arch rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl, but eventual Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young was able to come up with late-game heroics to lead the Tide to a frantic overtime win. As an ultra-rare underdog to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game the following week, they proceeded to dominate the Bulldogs in a 41-24 victory to get to this point.
Cincinnati (13-0) is walking into uncharted waters as the first Group of Five program with the good fortune to break into the CFP.
Coming off a 9-1 campaign last year where they nearly knocked off UGA in the Peach Bowl, the Bearcats once again handled business in American Athletic Conference play to post a perfect season. The team bolstered its playoff chances in early-October when it went to South Bend, IN, and took down Notre Dame. Despite a string of victories where it didn’t rack up mythical “style points”, the Bearcats kept winning and punched its playoff ticket with a 35-20 victory over Houston in the AAC Championship Game.
Here’s all the data you’ll want, and a pick for the game!
Alabama: 3rd overall, 2nd offense, 10th defense
Cincinnati: 5th overall, 11th offense, 9th defense
Cotton Bowl injury updates
WR JoJo Earle Gametime decision - Undisclosed
DB Jalyn Armour-Davis Gametime decision - Undisclosed
DB Josh Jobe Doubtful - Turf toe
WR John Metchie III Out - Torn ACL
No new injuries to report
Against The Spread
Alabama: 7-6 ATS
Cincinnati: 8-5 ATS
Alabama: Over 7-6
Cincinnati: Over 6-7
Current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Alabama -14
Moneyline: Alabama -590, Cincinnati +425
Opening line: Alabama -13.5
Opening total: 59
Alabama vs. Cincinnati: Cotton Bowl Pick
Considering that both of these teams have been off for nearly a month, both offense may need a minute to get things revved up. This would be normal for Cincinnati as they tend to not get things moving offensively until the second quarter. Both Luke Fickell and Nick Saban will be comfortable in a physical, lower-scoring affair so take the under in this semifinal battle.
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