Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Prediction: Cincinnati vs. Alabama Odds

Payton Matthews | Updated Dec 28, 2021

The Alabama Crimson Tide are looking for a chance to defend their national championship in this year's title game, but first they'll have to go through college football's Cinderella team, the Cincinnati Bearcats, in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve.

December 31, 2021, 3:30 PM ET
AT&T Stadium
Pointspread +13 -105
Moneyline +400
Over / Under o +58


Betting Action


Pointspread -13 -115
Moneyline -498
Over / Under u +58


Betting Action


The first College Football Playoff semifinal matchup on New Year’s Eve features defending champion and No. 1 Alabama facing Cinderella No. 4 seed Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl.

The Tide are 13.5-point favourites to win on the college football odds with a total of 58 points.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Betting Analysis

The College Football Playoff is old hat at this point for Nick Saban’s Alabama team. The Crimson Tide have won it three times, including last season (but not yet back-to-back) and have reached the playoff seven times; the rest of this year’s field has a combined four appearances. Alabama is the No. 1 seed for a fifth time. It has won a title as the No. 1 (2020 season), No. 4 (2017 season) and No. 2 (2015 season). To no surprise, the Tide are +113 favourites to repeat.

Cincinnati is the first Group of 5 school to reach the playoff, which means from a conference other than the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. The Bearcats will be headed to the Big 12 in a couple of years. A No. 4 seed like the Bearcats has won the title twice. They are the only unbeaten team in the country, and that earned Luke Fickell the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award. The Bearcats are +1400 long shots for the national title.

It’s the sixth all-time meeting between Alabama and Cincinnati. The Tide lead 5-0 and won those games by a combined score of 156-27, but they haven’t played since 1990.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats also were unbeaten and American Athletic Conference champions last season but the College Football Playoff committee never gave them a shot to play in the national semifinals. UC ended up losing to Georgia 24-21 in the Peach Bowl before running the table again this year. Winning at then-No. 9 Notre Dame 24-13 in early October was huge to impress the committee. There was no way that group could let the one-loss Irish in the playoff ahead of Cincinnati due to that victory.

UC has one of the winningest QBs in FBS history in Desmond Ridder. His 12,280 career total yards are an AAC and Cincinnati record, and his 116 total TDs are a school record. Defensively, no school has a better cornerback duo than the Bearcats’ Coby Bryant and junior Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back, while Gardner became UC’s third ever consensus All-American. Cincinnati and Georgia are the only two teams in the nation that rank in the Top 10 in both scoring offence (the Bearcats average 39.2 ppg) and scoring defence (allow 16.1 ppg). UC is 5-0 ATS in its past five as an underdog.

Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide were preseason No. 1 but lost that with a 41-38 upset defeat at Texas A&M on Oct. 9. Bama got the top ranking back by dominating then-No. 1 and unbeaten Georgia 41-24 in the SEC title game.

QB Bryce Young clinched the Heisman Trophy that day by throwing for 421 yards and three scores while also rushing for a TD against the nation’s No. 1 defence. Young is the first Alabama QB to ever win the Heisman and it marks the third straight season that a player from the top seed in the College Football Playoff has won it – it was Bama receiver DeVonta Smith last year.

The news was not all good in the SEC title win over Georgia as star Tide receiver John Metchie III, who grew up in Brampton from the age of six until high school, suffered a knee injury that ended his season. He had 96 catches for 1,142 yards and eight scores this season. The Tide are too talented to lose but 13.5 points is too many. Alabama is an unusual 0-6 ATS in its past six Friday games.

College Football Prediction: Who Will Win Cincinnati vs. Alabama?