GAMEDAY College Football

Cotton Bowl: Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6

(AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas - Brian Robinson Jr. ran for a career-high 204 yards and top-ranked Alabama rolled into yet another national championship game by overwhelming the first non-Power Five team to make the College Football Playoff.

Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young threw three touchdown passes while mostly avoiding Cincinnati's standout cornerbacks and the Crimson Tide beat the Bearcats 27-6 in the CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl. It was the sixth semifinal victory in a row for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama (13-1) has missed the four-team playoff only once and will try to win its second national title in a row and fourth in the eight seasons of the CFP format with coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide will play either No. 2 Michigan or No. 3 Georgia, the previously undefeated team Alabama beat for the SEC title, in the national title game Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

Alabama clearly was doing what it could to minimize the impact of cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant, and pretty much succeeded with Robinson pounding on the ground and Young throwing a lot of short, safe passes - though he did find hit Ja'Core Brooks for a 44-yard catch-and-run TD on a play away from the standout defenders for a 17-3 lead just before halftime.

The Crimson Tide opened the game with 10 consecutive runs before putting three receivers opposite of Gardner, who hasn't given up a TD in coverage in his college career. Young found Slade Bolden open in the left flat for an 8-yard TD pass that put Alabama ahead to stay.

With their own dynamic quarterback in Desmond Ridder, the NFL prospect who returned for an extra season for just this chance, the Bearcats (13-1) were the nation's only undefeated team until facing the playoff standard bearer.

Coach Luke Fickell and Cincinnati broke through as the first non-P5 to make the four-team playoff, bolstered by a win the first Saturday of October at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, who lost 31-14 to Alabama in a CFP semifinal Rose Bowl played at AT&T Stadium last New Year's Day, didn't lose another game this season and finished fifth in the final CFP rankings behind the history-making Bearcats.

Ridder was sacked six times and outside of a 9-yard run on the opening play of the second half never got to be hurt Bama with his feet. He was 17 of 32 for 144 yards.

Young, a 20-year-old sophomore, has a chance to become the fifth Alabama quarterback in 13 seasons to win a national title as a first-year starter. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 181 yards in the playoff game, four weeks after setting an SEC championship game record with 421 yards passing in a win over Georgia and three weeks after being the first Crimson Tide QB to win a Heisman Trophy.

His only interception came late in the third quarter when he overthrew All-America receiver Jameson Williams in a crowd of defenders and was picked off by Bryan Cook on the logo at midfield.

Williams was targeted eight times and had seven catches for 62 yards, the longest for 20 yards.

After Cook's interception, the Bearcats went three-and-out for the fifth time in the game, with Ridder sacked for 10-yard loss on third down.


Scoring Summary
First Quarter CinAla
Ala TD 9:51 Slade Bolden 8 yard TD pass from Bryce Young (Will Reichard Extra Point) 0 7
Cin FG 4:52 Cole Smith 33 yard field goal 3 7
Second Quarter CinAla
Ala FG 14:56 Will Reichard 26 yard field goal 3 10
Ala TD 1:36 Ja'Corey Brooks 44 yard TD pass from Bryce Young (Will Reichard Extra Point) 3 17
Third Quarter CinAla
Cin FG 9:57 Cole Smith 37 yard field goal 6 17
Fourth Quarter CinAla
Ala TD 13:52 Cameron Latu 9 yard TD pass from Bryce Young (Will Reichard Extra Point) 6 24
Ala FG 6:20 Will Reichard 43 yard field goal 6 27
Team Stats
  Cincinnati Alabama
First downs 13 27
  Rushing 6 16
  Passing 7 10
  Penalty 0 1
3rd Down Efficiency 2-12, 17% 5-13, 38%
4th down efficiency 0-3, 0% 1-1, 100%
Rushes-Yards 26-74 47-301
Passing Yards 144 181
Return Yards 52 16
Completions-Attempts-Int 17-32-0 17-28-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 6-38 2-8
Punts 5 2
Fumbles Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties - Yards 6-39 6-36
Cincinnati Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
D. Ridder 17 32 144 0 0
Alabama Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
B. Young 17 28 181 3 1
Cincinnati Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
J. Ford 15 77 5.1 0
R. Montgomery 1 3 3.0 0
D. Ridder 10 -6 -0.6 0
Alabama Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
B. Robinson Jr. 26 204 7.8 0
T. Sanders 14 67 4.8 0
J. Williams 1 18 18.0 0
B. Young 6 12 2.0 0
Cincinnati Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
M. Young Jr. 4 55 13.8 0
T. Scott 4 43 10.8 0
A. Pierce 2 17 8.5 0
T. Tucker 2 12 6.0 0
J. Whyle 1 12 12.0 0
J. Ford 3 11 3.7 0
L. Taylor 1 -6 -6.0 0
Alabama Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
J. Brooks 4 66 16.5 1
J. Williams 7 62 8.9 0
S. Bolden 3 31 10.3 1
J. Billingsley 1 12 12.0 0
C. Latu 1 9 9.0 1
T. Sanders 1 1 1.0 0
Cincinnati Interceptions
Player Int Yards
B. Cook 1 0
Alabama Interceptions
Player Int Yards
Cincinnati Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
M. Fletcher 5 226 45.2
Alabama Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
J. Burnip 2 88 44.0
Cincinnati Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
R. Montgomery 1 12 12.0
Alabama Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
J. Earle 2 2 1.0
S. Bolden 2 -1 -0.5
Cincinnati Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
T. Scott 1 40 40.0
Alabama Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
J. Williams 1 15 15.0
Cincinnati Missed FG
Player Length
Alabama Missed FG
Player Length
W. Reichard 44




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