The first of the two College Football Playoff semifinal matchups contains the #4 Cincinnati Bearcats (13-0) meeting the defending champion #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Cincinnati makes their first appearance in the CFP, and the Bearcats made history, becoming the first team from the Group of Five to earn a CFP bid.
Friday’s kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. EST inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Alabama is a 13.5-point favorite, and the over-under total is at 57.5 points.
What to Know – Cincinnati Bearcats
Head coach Luke Fickell and the Bearcats have a major challenge on their hands going up against last season’s national champions and head coach Nick Saban. Cincinnati should be up to the test, sporting a perfect regular-season record highlighted by a 24-13 victory at Notre Dame.
The Bearcats went through their 13-game schedule, averaging 39.2 points and 428.8 yards of total offense per game. Cincinnati’s defense held opponents to 16.1 points, one of the best in the country, and 305.8 yards of offense.
Desmond Ridder returned for his final year in Cincinnati, and it paid off with the senior quarterback throwing for 30 touchdowns and rushing for another six. Alabama transfer running back Jerome Ford carried the ball 200 times for 1,242 yards and 19 touchdowns. Ridder’s favorite target in the passing game was Alec Pierce, who hauled in 50 receptions for 867 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cincinnati was 8-5 against the spread during the regular season, and the Bearcats are 5-0 ATS in their last five playing as an underdog. The total has gone under in five of Cincinnati’s last seven contests.
What to Know – Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is back in a familiar place as the Crimson Tide have been in the CFP for seven of the first eight years of its existence. The Crimson Tide dropped a 41-38 game at Texas A&M but bounced back to close out their season with no losses and another SEC title.
The Crimson Tide showcase one of the top offenses in the nation, scoring 42.2 points per game behind 495.5 yards of total offense. Alabama’s defense hold opponents to 20.2 points and 306.2 yards per game.
Bryce Young hoisted the Heisman trophy earlier this month and looks to lead his team to another finals appearance. Young through for 4,322 yards with 43 touchdowns. Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for 1,071 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams hauled in 68 receptions for 1,445 yards and 15 scores.
Alabama was 6-4 ATS this season and 1-0 in their only game played on a neutral site. The under is 5-0 in the last five Alabama semifinal games.
The Pick is In
Cincinnati is a well-coached team and should have a solid defensive game plan to defend an Alabama offense that will be without centerpiece John Metchie III at receiver. The Bearcats offense had a lot of success against teams in the AAC, but it won’t be as easy Friday night.
Expect low scoring on both ends, with Alabama collecting enough stops to pull away with a comfortable victory.
Betting Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats/Alabama Crimson Tide UNDER 57.5