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Free Pick: Cotton Bowl at Arlington, TX 12/31/21
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Cotton Bowl at Arlington, TX 12/31/21

No.1 Alabama 12-1 vs. No.4 Cincinnati 13-0

This is the first semifinal game of the day in the College Football Playoffs. It features the favored and experienced Crimson Tide, against the Cinderella story of the year, the Cincinnati Bearcats. Very few are giving the Bearcats much of a chance and who can blame them? Alabama is as good as anybody has ever been in these playoff type games, and have every right to get the respect that they do. They tore apart a Georgia defense that was considered unbeatable, winning 41-24 for the SEC Championship game. But, this is a Cincinnati team that has played and survived enormous pressure all year long. Let’s see if we can find something to bet.


Alabama: 35.5 Total Team Points Let’s look at some stats: Alabama is averaging 43 points and Cincinnati is allowing 16 points per game. They are rushing for 148 yards per game with Brian Robinson as a 1000-yard rusher. The Bearcats are allowing 138 yards on the ground. Heisman trophy winner, Bryce Young has thrown for 4,322 yards and 42 touchdowns and has only 4 interceptions. He has two outstanding receivers to throw to in Jameson Williams and John Metchie.The Cincinnati secondary is one of their strengths and is allowing only 168 passing yards per game and they have 18 interceptions. In summarizing, Alabama is very good on offense and Cincinnati is very good on defense. 36 points is a bunch to score. I’ll take Alabama UNDER 35.5 total points.

Cincinnati: 21.5 Total Team Points The Bearcats are averaging 39 points and the Alabama defense is allowing only 20 points per game. They are rushing for 180 yards per game and are led by, Jerome Ford, who has 1,268 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Alabama defense has been great against the run holding their opponents to 83 yards per contest. Cincinnati quarterback, Desmond Ridder is as steady as they come. He has completed 65% of his passes for 3,190 yards. He has thrown for 30 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. The Alabama secondary is allowing 223 yards per game and have 14 interceptions. The Cincinnati offense is efficient and very consistent and they are going up against a very good Alabama defense. I’ll take Cincinnati OVER 21.5 total points.

OVER/UNDER: 57.5 Combined Team Points: This line is pretty tough to bet. The two teams are averaging 41 points combined per game. Defensively, they are giving up 18 points combined per game. That adds up to 59 points. I would lean towards taking the OVER.

POINT SPREAD: Alabama is a 13.5-point favorite. The key to this game for me is, will Cincinnati think they can beat Alabama? They have the athletes to stay with the Crimson Tide and won’t be overmatched. They have to keep Bryce Young from completing the big passes downfield to his speedy receivers. Big plays will be a killer to the Bearcats’ hopes. Alabama has no fear of anyone (why should they), and I hate to think I had to beat them in any big game. But, there’s something about this Cincinnati team . . . . . . .

AARON’S PICK: Cincinnati +13.5

PAPA DUDES PICK: Alabama UNDER 35.5 team points

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