The day is finally here, and the wait for the NCAA Semifinal stage is over. After more than 800 games played throughout the regular season, two matchups are drawing all the attention, and one will feature the top seed squad of the current NCAA season.
This year’s edition of the Cotton Bowl will present the fourth-seed and semifinal stage underdogs, Cincinnati Bearcats, and the team with the most potential to conquer the championship, the Alabama Crimson Tide, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Before the final countdown to New Year’s eve, the Cotton Bowl is expected to bring out some of the best of two of the four remaining teams and serve as a preview of the NCAA Championship Final.
Having finished the season undefeated and first overall in the American Conference, the Bearcats will attempt to strike Crimson Tide’s almost perfect season record and conquer an NCAA championship title.
It’s more than just an achievement to finish the season 13-0, having stood above other top seeds such as LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas. To the Bearcats, it’s a statement that they have everything they need to surpass the Crimson Tide.
On the offensive end, Cincinnati will need to rely on lead QB Desmond Ridder, who has 3,190 passing yards over the 2021 season and 30 touchdowns. Jerome Ford is leading the team in rushing yards, with 1,242 and 19 touchdowns.
Cincinnati may be 29th overall on the season in points scored, with a total of 38.8 average points per game, yet the squad has only allowed 16.1 points per game on the defensive end.
More than exploding in offensive production, the key is to keep Bama’s running game short. Although the Crimson Tide is strong under lead QB Bryce Young, Cincinnati may just have to rely on keeping first and second downs short and pushing Bryce into long third downs.
Still, the Bearcats have had enough time to prepare, and a high level of defensive protection is to be expected from Cincinnati.
Alabama has all the odds and numbers in their favor with a 12-1 season record, first overall in SEC West, and still top-seeded to take the NCAA Championship title. Although much has been said about Alabama, it’s still worth reviewing some numbers.
Young’s 4,322 passing yards and 43 touchdowns are two of the reasons why he was honored with the Heisman Trophy award. Along with Young’s passing game, Brian Robinson Jr. was able to produce a total of 1,071 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide finished the season as sixth overall with 347.9 passing yards per game, and 13th with 42.5 average points per game, allowing only 20.2 points against. If anything is worth saying about Bama, the squad was simply made for moments like these.
The Bearcats’ outstanding performance and numbers are still holding the squad as the number four seed in the semifinal stage. The total has gone under for Cincinnati in five of their last seven games. The total has also gone under in four of the previous six games for Alabama.
The odds are all leaning towards Crimson Tide, and they continue to stand as the favorite squad to advance in the NCAA Championship race.
The Bearcats hope to keep Bama’s offensive production constrained and exploit their defensive protection to get as many chances to move down the field as possible.
For Bama, it’s all about coming together and giving Young the ability to lead the Crimson Tide to their second consecutive championship.