The Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 SU, 7-6 ATS) are 29-1 SU and 18-12 ATS in their last 30 games as a double-digit favorite. The Crimson Tide will be in the familiar role of heavy favorite on New Year’s Eve when they battle the Cincinnati Bearcats (13-0 SU, 8-5 ATS) in the Cotton Bowl for a berth in the national title game.
Opening Odds Analysis
The betting line on the Cotton Bowl has remained steady since opening at Alabama -13.5. There also hasn’t been any early movement on the total in this matchup set at 58 points. The UNDER is 10-0 in Cincinnati’s last 10 games as an underdog.
Cincinnati News & Notes
Desmond Ridder went 11-for-17 for 190 passing yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions and Jerome Ford rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in Cincinnati’s 35-20 win over the Houston Cougars in the AAC championship game. And with that, the Bearcats improved to 3-0 ATS over their final three games of the regular season and to 13-0 SU overall.
Even a perfect record historically hasn’t been enough for a non-Power Five team to make the College Football Playoff, but this year stands as the exception. Cincinnati went 9-0 SU and 5-4 ATS last season before meeting the Georgia Bulldogs in the Peach Bowl. The Bearcats lost that game 24-21 in a competitive contest in which they covered the spread as 8.5-point underdogs, improving to 5-0 ATS in their last five games as an underdog.
Alabama News & Notes
The Heisman Trophy race was wide open throughout most of the 2021 season, but Bryce Young left no doubt who this year’s winner would be with his performance against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game.
Young went 26-for-44 for 421 passing yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions and rushed for 40 yards and a major in Alabama’s 41-24 upset win. All this against a defense that was allowing only 6.9 points per game heading into that contest.
So after being an underdog to even make the College Football Playoff heading into championship week, Alabama now finds itself as the favorite to win the national championship as the playoff’s top seed. Young enters this game with 4,322 passing yards, 43 touchdown passes and only four interceptions in 2021.
How Cincinnati Will Cover
The Bearcats ranked seventh in the nation in total defense (305.8 total yards allowed per game) and fifth in scoring defense (16.1 points allowed per game) in 2021. The defense will have to prove it’s the real deal against one of the country’s best quarterbacks to give Cincinnati a shot at covering the spread.
How Alabama Will Cover
Nick Saban has talked about the positive attention Alabama gets as “rat poison” in the past. If the Crimson Tide can avoid looking ahead of this game and getting caught up in their new-found hype, they obviously have more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to win and cover despite Cincinnati’s strength.
Computer Pick: Cincinnati +13.5
For more college football predictions, visit our NCAAF Computer Picks page.
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