Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

No. 1 Bama runs over non-P5 Cincy 27-6 in playoff semifinal | Ap

ARLINGTON, Texas – Brian Robinson Jr. grew up near the Alabama campus and watched the Crimson Tide win and wanted to play a big role in it.

With fifth and first years running 204 yards back in senior and first years and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young throwing three touchdown passes, the Crimson Tide earned the chance to score a 27-6 playing another national title beating Cincinnati on Friday in the college football playoff semifinals at the Cotton Bowl.

It was a bitter end for Desmond Ridder and the Bearcats, the first non-Power Five team to ever get a taste of the CFP. They were physically overwhelmed on the big stage.

“B-Rob was huge for us all night,” said Young. “Missing the first guy, falling forward and fighting for those extra yards. He was a constant. “

“As a little kid, I just always wanted to be part of this program. I always wanted to play for one national championship, ”said Robinson. “Just being out there and leading this team in this big game on this big stage … it’s like a dream come true.”

Alabama (13-1) has only missed the four-team playoff once and will seek to win its second straight national title and fourth in its eight CFP format seasons. The Crimson Tide will play in the national title game on January 10 in Indianapolis against No. 3 Georgia, the previously undefeated team to beat Alabama for the SEC title.

Alabama clearly did what it could to minimize the impact of stellar Cincinnati cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant and was quite successful when Robinson stormed 26 times and Young threw many short, safe passes – despite being Ja’Corey Brooks scored for a 44-yard catch-and-run TD on a game away from the standout defenders for a 17-3 lead just before halftime.

“I’m really very proud of our team, our players. I think they showed great competitive character out there, ”said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has won six national titles in his 15th season in Alabama. “The boys have shown a lot of resilience all year long to have the opportunity to get to this game.”

With Ridder the dynamic quarterback and NFL prospect returning for an extra season just for that chance, the Bearcats (13-1) were the nation’s only undefeated team until they faced the playoff standard bearer.

“It’s heartbreaking, of course, and really, really difficult for everyone, but most importantly for the 30 or so seniors who have brought this program and team to date,” said Luke Fickell, Bearcats coach.

Ridder has been sacked six times and, apart from a 9-yard run in the opening game of the second half, never injured Bama. He was 17 of 32 passes, or 144 yards.

“It’s one thing to sit there and watch a movie and sit there and draw the twists and turns and stunts they do on the board and work them through through practice,” said Ridder. “It’s another thing to come here and play it on a big stage.”

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

His only interception came late in the third quarter when he plunged All-America receiver Jameson Williams into a crowd of defenders and the pass was picked up by Bryan Cook on the logo in midfield. Williams caught the other seven passes that he threw in his path for 62 yards, the longest being 20 yards.

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

Cincinnati’s breakthrough to the four-team playoff was aided by a win at Notre Dame on the first Saturday in October. The Fighting Irish, who lost 31:14 to Alabama in a Rose Bowl in the CFP semi-finals last New Year’s Day at the AT&T Stadium, have not lost another game this season and finished fifth behind the historic Bearcats in the last CFP rankings.

American Athletic Conference champion Bearcats hit a season low of 218 yards and held for the first time since a 42-0 loss to Ohio State in the second game of the 2019 season without a touchdown, the last time they played in the top 5 Team.

“We knew the fight in the trenches was going to be a big deal and somehow the game was won there,” said Fickell. “In no phase did we give ourselves a chance.”

Cincinnati: It was only the second loss in two seasons for the Bearcats, with both setbacks coming in their final games. They lost 24-21 to Georgia on a final field goal at the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day. … Cincinnati scored field goals from Cole Smith (37 and 31 yards) on the first drive of each half but struggled to move the ball outside of those two drives.

Alabama: Having never tracked the Tide with their running game for most of the season, fifth grader Robinson and the Rushers led them in the semifinals by 301 yards. Trey Sanders had 14 carries for 67 yards. When they entered the Cotton Bowl, the Crimson Tide averaged 147.6 yards per game, the lowest total in 15 seasons under Saban.

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