After longstanding complaints about a lack of parity in college football, the sport’s biggest stage — the College Football Playoff and its semifinal matchups — will feature some new blood, namely Michigan and, most notably, Cincinnati.
Cincinnati is the first Group of 5 school to make the Playoff thanks to an undefeated regular season and a conference title. The Bearcats finished the season ranked No. 4, which means they’ll take on No. 1 seed Alabama as Nick Saban’s group looks for its fourth national championship of the Playoff era and second straight title.
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The Bearcats have become the darlings of college football for making the Playoff, but they’ve shown before that they can compete with some of the best teams. They lost to Georgia by three points last season.
They’re stout on defense, ranking second in pass defense, fourth in scoring defense and eighth in total defense nationally this season. Defensive back Coby Bryant is the unit’s leader. And the offense, led by quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Jerome Ford, has more than enough firepower.
Alabama, meanwhile, is still Alabama. The Crimson Tide rank third nationally in sacks, ninth in third-down defense, second in third-down offense, sixth in total offense and fourth in scoring offense.
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At the center of Alabama’s success has been quarterback and Heisman winner Bryce Young, while linebacker Will Anderson has anchored the defense. The Tide will be down one of their top receivers, however; John Metchie is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Sporting News is tracking live scoring updates and highlights from Alabama vs. Cincinnati in their College Football Playoff semifinal on Friday. Follow below for complete results from the 2021 Cotton Bowl Classic.
MORE: Watch Alabama vs. Cincinnati live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)
Alabama vs. Cincinnati score
Alabama vs. Cincinnati live score, updates
3:57 p.m.: On second-down, Cincinnati picks up 22 as Ridder hits Tyler Scott out of the backfield. Alabama calls its first timeout of the game as Cincinnati is at the Alabama 9 with 5:48 left in the quarter.
3:57 p.m.: Desmond Ridder completes a nice 19-yard pass to Michael Young, making an impressive throw on a roll out. Ball at the Alabama 31 with second-and-10 upcoming.
3:55 p.m.: On third-and-1, Ryan Montgomery gets three yards and Cincinnati is officially at midfield with a first down coming up.
3:53 p.m.: The Bearcats are now at their own 47 thanks to a 9-yard run by Jerome Ford. Cincinnati is attempting to answer with points on its opening drive.
3:52 p.m.: Cincinnati’s opening drive will begin at their 25.
3:47 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA. The Tide pass it for the first time on the 11th play of the drive and Bryce Young hits a wide open Slade Bolden for 8 yards and the score. Alabama out front first. Alabama 7, Cincinnati 0 with 9:51 left in the first.
3:47 p.m.: 10 plays so far for Alabama, all of them runs. A change of pace for Nick Saban’s squad.
One more to put that drive into perspective for you: Alabama’s 10 rushes on that opening drive were their most rush attempts on their first possession of a game since 2008 vs Arkansas State (also 10). per @ESPNStatsInfo … repeat, 2008!!
— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) December 31, 2021
3:45 p.m.: Robinson then peels off 16 more yards on runs of 9 and 7 plus a penalty and Alabama is now well inside the red zone at the Cincinnati 13.
3:44 p.m.: Jameson Williams makes his first appearance. This time it’s out of the backfield for 18 yards and it puts the Crimson Tide across midfield to the Cincinnati 35.
3:42 p.m.: Alabama starts the game with three runs by Brian Robinson and pick up the first down on third-and-1.
3:41 p.m.: The opening kick goes for a touchback. Alabama takes over at its own 25.
3:37 p.m.: Cincinnati wins the toss and defers. The Bearcats’ attempt at making history starts on defense, which they have to like. They rank fourth in scoring defense and eighth in total defense.
Alabama vs. Cincinnati start time
Kickoff for Alabama vs. Cincinnati is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 31. It is the first of the two Playoff games, with the Orange Bowl between No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia kicking off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
What channel is Alabama vs. Cincinnati on?
Alabama vs. Cincinnati will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Sean McDonough (play-by-play) and Todd Blackledge (analyst) will call the game from the booth while Molly McGrath and Laura Rutledge will report from the sidelines.
ESPN is also rolling out its Megacast for the College Football Playoff, once again providing alternate broadcasts across its family of networks. Here’s the full rundown.
|Spanish language||ESPN Deportes|
How to live stream College Football Playoff games
Both College Football Playoff semifinals will be broadcast on ESPN and are available to stream live on all of the network’s digital platforms, including ESPN.com and the ESPN app.
Cord-cutters have several live streaming options. Below is the list.
|Streaming option||Cable subscription needed?||Free?||Cost||Free trial?|
|Yahoo! Sports App||No||Yes||–||–|
|AT&T TV Now||No||No||$55/month||Yes|
|Hulu Plus Live TV||No||No||$55/month||Yes|
College Football Playoff schedule
|Dec. 31||Cotton Bowl Classic (CFP semifinal)||No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati||3:30 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Dec. 31||Orange Bowl (CFP semifinal)||No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia||7:30 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Jan. 10||CFP National Championship Game||TBD vs. TBD||8 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|