The Alabama Crimson Tide is again on the hunt for a national championship. The last time we saw them play was on Dec. 4 against Georgia in the SEC Championship. They ended Georgia’s undefeated campaign by scoring 41 points on the country’s most dominant defense.
They must face an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats team in the 2021 Cotton Bowl. The latest college football odds show Alabama as a 13.5-point favorite.
Can the Tide cover the spread? Let’s break down the game and Alabama’s advantages and weaknesses.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Game Information
- Date: Friday, Dec. 31
- Time: 3:30 PM EST
- Venue: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX
- Participants: Cincinnati Bearcats and Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama’s most significant advantage might be the quarterback position. While Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder had an excellent season, throwing for 3,190 yards and 30 TDs, Alabama QB Bryce Young is the Heisman Trophy winner.
Young had a great season taking over the reins from Mac Jones, throwing for 4,322 yards and 43 TDs with only four interceptions.
Against a Georgia Bulldogs’ defense giving up less than ten points per game, Young and the Tide rolled for 41. Bama has scored fewer than 30 points in only two games this year and fewer than 40 points in four games.
The Tide also boasts the third-best rushing defense in the NCAA, allowing only 81.4 yards per game. That’s bad news for a Cincinnati team that runs the ball more than they pass it (33.8 rushes on average vs. 28.6 passes).
Led by Bryce Young, Alabama’s pass defense is ranked seventh overall. Their offense also ranked fourth in points scored per game.
Unfortunately, the passing game will take a hit with the loss of wide receiver John Metchie III. Metchie suffered an ACL Injury in the SEC championship game against Georgia.
Metchie has 96 receptions this season, and with him out, Cincinnati can put their CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner on WR Jameson Williams and use a safety to stack coverage on him.
Undefeated Cincinnati’s biggest win of the season, in my opinion, was a 24-13 win against Notre Dame. Because they do not play in a Power 5 conference, they’ve not faced the competition level most schools must play through to earn a playoff spot. They can, however, only play the games on their schedule, and they won them all.
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide lost only one game this year, 41-38 against Texas A&M. What’s interesting about this game is that Texas A&M is one of the two schools on Alabama’s schedule that has a better-ranked scoring defense than Cincinnati. They scored 38 points in that game and 41 points against Georgia (the number one scoring defense).
Even though Alabama will miss Metchie, I believe they will score early and often against this Cincinnati team.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide has the fourth-best scoring offense in the country and only allows 20.2 points per game. However, they are missing a key player in their passing attack, WR John Metchie III. I believe that the Bearcats’ only chance is to key on WR Jameson Williams and force Young out of his comfort zone.
That’s a big ask. Alabama is elite on both sides of the ball, and I think that their talent should shine through in this game. I believe Alabama will win this game and cover the spread.
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