The Cincinnati Bearcats haven’t lost a game in 2021, but they’re about to face their stiffest test of the season.
Friday’s Cincinnati vs. Alabama matchup pits one of the nation’s best defenses against Nick Saban and the dynamic Alabama offense. According to the college football odds from BetMGM, the Crimson Tide are 13.5-point favorites in this matchup.
2021 Cotton Bowl Information
- Time: 3:30 P.M. EST
- Date: Friday, December 31st, 2021
- Venue: AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX
- Line: Alabama -13.5
Read on to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of the 2021 Cincinnati Bearcats squad.
Cincinnati’s Strength Is Defense
Cincinnati’s biggest strength is its defense. The Bearcats have allowed just 209 points, the fourth-best mark in FBS. One player that Cincinnati’s defense won’t have to deal with is receiver John Metchie, who found out he’d miss the College Football Playoff semifinal with an ACL injury.
This year, Cincinnati racked up the 12th most tackles for loss in FBS Football. The Bearcats also allowed the second-fewest pass yards in FBS, giving up just 168.3 passing yards per game. Overall, the Cincinnati defense has given up just 5.68 yards per completion, the third-best mark in college football.
However, the Bearcats haven’t played an offense like the Crimson Tide. Cincinnati will look to contain an Alabama offense that converts third downs at the second-highest rate in college football. Cincinnati’s success in getting Alabama off the field will likely determine its ability to keep this game close.
The Cincinnati defense has forced 29 turnovers this year, helping the Bearcats achieve the seventh-best turnover differential in the country. This defense will need to step up in a game against an Alabama offense that has only turned the ball over ten times this year, the 12th-best mark in the country.
Cincinnati’s Pass Offense May Be a Weak Spot
On offense, third down conversions have been a problem for Cincinnati all year. Despite having a dynamic tailback in Jerome Ford, the Bearcats rank 54th in the FBS third down conversion, converting just 41.4 percent of the time.
Still, the Bearcats’ offense isn’t all bad. They have a solid offensive line that can protect the quarterback throughout the game.
The Bearcats have allowed just 20 sacks in 13 games, good for 28th in FBS. The lack of sacks could be because the Bearcats don’t emphasize the pass. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder averages just 248.7 passing yards per game, ranking 53rd in FBS football in passing yards per game. Cincinnati will need to rely on its strong run game and defense to beat Alabama in the 2021 Cotton Bowl.
Reviewing the Cincinnati Bearcats’ Strengths and Weaknesses
Cincinnati’s best hope is to limit the Alabama offense and win a low-scoring game.
Cincinnati will probably need to create at least one turnover to win this game. Luckily for the Bearcats, their defense has been able to force turnovers all year en route to an undefeated season.
Do you think Cincinnati can cover the spread or win outright? You can wager on this game and other NCAA bowl games at the BetMGM online sportsbook. Create an account today for a risk-free initial bet of up to $1,000.