Cotton Bowl 2021: Odds, Game Info, Injury Report for Cincinnati vs. Alabama

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2021

Cotton Bowl 2021: Odds, Game Info, Injury Report for Cincinnati vs. Alabama

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    In the first national semifinal of the 2021 College Football Playoff, the breakthrough team meets the juggernaut.

    Cincinnati, which has posted a 44-6 record over the past four seasons, is the first Group of Five program to reach the playoff. And the Bearcats' reward for a historic year is a clash with top-ranked Alabama, the reigning FBS champion.

    But as Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell made clear, it's an incredible opportunity for the Bearcats.

    Along with sharing his recent comments, we have the latest odds, broadcast info and injury report for the Cotton Bowl.

Game Info and Odds

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    Jeff Dean/Associated Press

    When: Friday, Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET

    Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

    TV: ESPN

    Stream: ESPN

    Spread (via DraftKings): Alabama -13.5

    Total: 58

    Moneyline: Alabama -525 (bet $525 to win $100); Cincinnati +385 (bet $100 to win $385)

Injury Report

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    After a 13-game season, it's remarkable Cincinnati has no major injuries of note. The lone expected absence is senior kicker Cole Smith, who hasn't played since October. To have a full-strength roster for the biggest stage is a major luxury.

    On the other hand, Alabama is preparing to be without key receiver John Metchie III for the first time in 2021.

    Metchie amassed a team-high 96 catches with 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns but exited the SEC Championship Game with a torn left ACL. On New Year's Eve, the Crimson Tide may lean on Traeshon Holden and Ja'Corey Brooks to share Metchie's snaps.

    Top running back Brian Robinson Jr. will be available, but Alabama's backfield is depleted, with Trey Sanders, Roydell Williams, Jase McClellan and Camar Wheaton all sidelined.

    Starting cornerback Josh Jobe is also out because of foot surgery. He had the procedure in early December.

Cincinnati's 'Incredible Opportunity'

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    Last season, Cincinnati just wanted a chance. Despite a 9-0 regular season, the Bearcats were shut out of the playoff.

    But now, they have the shot.

    "This is not just a top-five program; this is the top program," Fickell said of Alabama, according to Justin Williams of The Athletic. "I don't care how long you go back. So yeah, it's an incredible measuring stick on an incredible stage with an incredible opportunity."

    Cincinnati brings a high-level defense to the showdown, featuring AP All-America corners Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant. Only two teams have surrendered fewer yards per snap than the Bearcats (4.3), who also rank ninth nationally in tackles for loss. They should present a serious test to Alabama's offense, especially since Metchie is hurt.

    There is no question Alabama has superior talent. But on a single night, the Bearcats could put together a more complete game and shock the college football world.

    Perhaps it doesn't happen. Unlike 2020, though, they have a chance.