Alabama outclasses Cincinnati

(News4usonline) – Nick Saban and top-ranked Alabama didn’t need Bryce Young to be the Heisman Trophy quarterback that he is against No. 4 Cincinnati in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Playing in his first game since winning the coveted award for the best player in college football, Young wasn’t at his best.

Saban and the Crimson Tide didn’t need the sophomore signal-caller to be Superman against the Bearcats. All the Crimson Tide needed Young to do was to be steady and let linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and their defense and running back Brian Robinson Jr. do all the heavy lifting for them.

Behind Robinson’s 204 yards rushing (198 yards net rushing)  and the six sacks recorded by the Crimson Tide’s defense, No.1 Alabama rolled past the Bearcats with a 27-6 win at AT&T Stadium where 76,313 people watched the game in person.

“This was a great team win for us,” Saban said during his postgame press conference. “Obviously, both these guys had great games. B. Rob (Brian Robinson Jr.) did a great job running the ball for 200 yards rushing. Will [Anderson] has been a standout for us all year long.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is flushed out of the pocket by a Cincinnati Bearcats defender in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Courtesy photo

“These guys have provided great leadership for some of the other younger guys on the team, and now they’ve created the opportunity to play for the national championship, which I’m extremely proud of this group for that.”

Alabama’s win means that Saban and the Crimson Tide will once again be playing for a national championship. Alabama beat Ohio State 52-24 last year in the College Football Playoff Championship. And they’ll have to get by No. 3 Georgia, a team they routed in the SEC title game, to do a repeat. 

But for now, the focus is on how Alabama disassembled the Bearcats, who came into the game undefeated with 13 wins during the regular season against zero defeats. Cincinnati’s unblemished record was done away with in large part because the Bearcats failed to stop the run.    

With Robinson going wild in the run game and with Anderson (two sacks) leading a ferocious pass rush for the Crimson Tide, Cincinnati had almost no shot at upending Alabama’s season. As Alabama rolled into halftime with a 17-3 lead, Robinson had already surpassed the century mark with 134 yards rushing in the first half.

“We started out running the ball. We had some positive runs in the run game,” said Robinson. “And we just had to trust it, just stay with it. We knew we were going to have an opportunity to run the ball the rest of the game. So with that first drive, coming off 10 carries, it just let me get my mind right and be prepared to run the ball the rest of the game.” 

Alabama’s defense recorded six sacks in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic against Cincinnati. Courtesy photo

Alabama and Cincinnati were selected to play in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic as part of the College Football Playoff format. Alabama rode into the game behind the passing of Young, who broke a couple of school records against the Bearcats, despite having a not-so-spectacular performance.  

The 2021 college football Heisman Trophy winner completed 17 of 28 passes for just 181 yards with an interception to boot. Despite his pedestrian outing, Young will have an opportunity to make up for his up-and-down play with his first national championship game as a starter.  

Young (4,503 yards) still managed to throw three touchdowns and break Mac Jones’ single-season yards passing mark (4,500 yards) with one game to go. With his three scoring tosses, Young now holds the Alabama record with most touchdown passes (46) thrown in a season.   

When it was his turn at the podium to speak, Young took the attention off himself and saluted the performance by Robinson and his offensive line instead.

“B. Rob [Robinson] was huge for us all night,” remarked Young. “Making that first guy miss, falling forward, fighting for those extra yards. B. Rob, he was huge for us. He was a constant all night. And that’s just B. Rob for you. And really him and the entire offensive line, really all night dominating up front. And that’s the whole — up front and B. Rob, that’s everyone.”

Young continued: “Trey [Sanders] when he got in, the whole running game, that starts up front. So those guys get a lot of the credit. Again, B. Rob did a tremendous job. Making those right reads, cutting off the right guy, falling forward, making that first person miss.”

The Cincinnati Bearcats had a hard time stopping the big plays from Alabama in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Courtesy photo

As a team, Alabama rushed for 313 yards in total and finished the game with 301 yards on the ground. On the other side, the Crimson Tide held the Bearcats to 74 net yards rushing the football. Alabama’s dominance was evident on both sides of the ball, said Robinson.

“I think we just showed a lot of physicality,” Robinson said. “We knew they were going to come out fired up. We knew they were going to come out and try to be physical. And we just proved that we were the most physical team, with the run game, the defensive front. Just the whole defense overall and the whole offense overall, we just proved that we were the more physical team.”

Getting physical was something the Crimson Tide’s defense did well against the Bearcats, thanks to the play of Anderson (six tackles) and Brian Branch (eight tackles). Alabama forced Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder into completing only 17 of 32 passes for 144 yards.

Alabama’s defense also deserves kudos for not allowing the Bearcats to earn a touchdown in the game.

Alabama players celebrate. Courtesy photo

“That’s one of our biggest goals as defense is holding people to a certain amount of points,” Anderson said. “What we did tonight is unbelievable. We still have more work to do; but for us to meet that goal, that’s one of our biggest goals on our goal sheet. And to meet that goal, it means a lot to us. And we just got to keep going.”

When he was asked if this was a statement game by the Crimson Tide defense, Anderson was emphatic with his reply. 

“I think we made a big statement as the season went on,” said Anderson. “We’ve been starting to get better on defense, cutting down mental errors and stuff like that. So as the season is going on and we’re coming up on our final game, I think it’s really critical now that we pay attention to little details and make sure that we’re all on the same page and keep cutting down on mental errors, keep having fun, and playing together as a unit. I think that’s what we’ve been doing right now.”