Cotton Bowl 2021: Final Odds and Prediction for Cincinnati vs. Alabama

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2021

Cotton Bowl 2021: Final Odds and Prediction for Cincinnati vs. Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The first of two College Football Playoff semifinals pits the Cincinnati Bearcats against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the 2021 Cotton Bowl.

    Friday afternoon's matchup will be the biggest David vs. Goliath clash the CFP has ever featured. Granted, you wouldn't necessarily know it from a recent storyline.

    Cincinnati is the actual underdog, heading into AT&T Stadium at a two-touchdown deficit on the betting line. Alabama coach Nick Saban, though, has managed to convince his teamyou know, the defending championsthat the roles are reversed.

    While diving into that humorous thought, this preview includes the broadcast info, latest odds and prediction for the Cotton Bowl.

Game Info and Odds

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    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 -14

    Total: 57

    Moneyline: Alabama -600 (bet $600 to win $100); Cincinnati +435 (bet $100 to win $435)

    Odds via DraftKings

Wait, Who's the Underdog?

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    Will Anderson Jr.
    Will Anderson Jr.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First off, it's Cincinnati. Just, it's the Bearcats.

    While a fully deserving inclusion, Cincinnati is nonetheless the first-ever program from outside the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC (and Notre Dame) to reach the Playoff. The line may move slightly, but Cincy is a 14-point underdog.

    But there are many reasons Nick Saban is the greatest coach in college football history, and masterful motivation is one.

    "To me, I still feel like we're the underdog in this game," star-edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. told reporters earlier in the week. "I mean, all year we have been disrespected. I'm pretty sure we're still probably getting disrespected out there."

    Anderson celebrated a national title with the Tide last season. Alabama has six of those championships since 2009. Cincinnati hasn't even won six bowl games in that span.

    Hey, whatever works!


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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    If you're expecting a blowout, that's not illogical. Still, it's worth knowing Alabama is prone to unimpressive first halves.

    In the Crimson Tide's last five SEC games, they trailed in four of them and totaled only 10 first-quarter points. Yes, they ultimately won all five. That's a pretty important fact, too. But that trend suggests Cincinnati has a real chance to take an early lead.

    Maybe this is the underdog stuff, after all!

    Nevertheless, we anticipate Alabama's talent to settle into the game and overtake Cincinnati. Led by Anderson, the Tide's defensive front is the largest mismatch of the game. Even if Alabama's offense starts slowly, the defense can buoy the team until the offense puts together a few second-half scoring drives.

    Although our prediction is a double-digit win for Alabama, it'll be a hard-earned victory in Arlington.


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