As of this moment, Cincinnati is a 13.5 point underdog to Alabama over at DraftKings.com.
Here are five ways that Cincinnati can come away with a ‘W’ in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
- Desmond Ridder Needs to Make Plays with His Feet: Bama blogs seem quite concerned about Ridder’s running ability and I agree with them. There is no reason for Luke Fickell and the Cincinnati Bearcats brain trust to do anything but unleash this big, strong, and fast weapon as much as makes sense in the running game. Cincinnati’s brawny offensive line looks to match up well with Bama’s defensive front. The big question is to what extent all-world tackling machine Will Anderson can shut down this aspect of Cincinnati’s offense.
Ridder’s ability to run will be a bellwether of Cincinnati’s ability to pass on New Year’s Eve. The more he can do with his legs, the more he will be able to do with his arm. And the more offensive flexibility that Cincinnati asserts at AT&T Stadium, the better shot they have at pulling off the upset.
2. Cincinnati Will Need to Force Turnovers: Alabama has surrendered just 10 turnovers this season. Cincinnati has forced 32 turnovers this season, Cincinnati’s secondary will need to find a way to pry the ball away from Bryce Young and his cadre of offensive weapons. The Bearcats will not stop them every time but forcing a couple turnovers will help keep them in the fray.
3. Cincinnati Needs to Block a Kick: Field Goal or punt, it doesn’t matter. Cincinnati has blocked six kicks this year and, in each instance, it has served a decisive purpose in the game. The Bearcats lead the nation in blocked kicks and a blocked kick will bode well for the Bearcats.
4. Cincinnati Will Need to Draw Fewer Penalties than Alabama: The Bearcats and Crimson Tide both draw an above average number of penalties and an above average amount of penalty yards. If Cincinnati’s o-linemen and d-backs, in particular, can keep their hands to home, this will be a big help.
5. Cincinnati Must Stop Alabama From Asserting Its Running Game: Rendering Alabama’s offensive single-minded would be a big help. The Crimson Tide are only middle of the pack nationally in the run game. If Cincinnati’s stout run defense can hold Bama in check, it will play to Cincinnati’s strengths in its secondary.