For the second time in the 2021 calendar year, Alabama is heading to AT&T Stadium for its College Football Playoff semifinal. This year, the top-ranked Crimson Tide will face off against Luke Fickell and No. 4 Cincinnati, the first Group of 5 team ever to make the playoff, in the Cotton Bowl.
Alabama earned its latest playoff berth on the strength of a 12-1 record and SEC championship. That said, the Crimson Tide faced uncertainty the week of the conference title game, needing to beat top-ranked Georgia in order to ensure entry into the playoff. Alabama did so in a massive upset, jumping from No. 3 to No. 1 overall.
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The Bearcats — the only remaining undefeated team in Division I — became the first Group of 5 team on this stage by going 13-0 in the regular season and beating ranked opponents in No. 21 Houston (11-2) and No. 9 Notre Dame (11-1). Curiously, Nick Saban and Co. beat the Fighting Irish in last year’s Rose Bowl Game.
It’s also worth noting that the last non-automatic qualifying team Alabama played in a New Year’s bowl game — the 2008 Utah Utes, then out of the Mountain West — demolished the Crimson Tide 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl to remain the only undefeated team in college football. Needless to say, Saban will not let his team overlook a Bearcats team that faces the biggest point spread of bowl season (14).
There are several interesting storylines in this one, not least of which is the quarterback battle between Heisman Trophy winner and Sporting News Player of the Year Bryce Young and projected first-round draft pick Desmond Ridder. It will also be a reunion of sorts for Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford, who began his collegiate career at Alabama. Of course, the winner of this game will take on the winner of No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia in the CFP title game.
With that, Sporting News breaks down how to watch the 2021 College Football Playoff semifinal between Alabama and Cincinnati:
What channel is Alabama vs. Cincinnati on today?
- TV channel (national): ESPN
- Live stream: ESPN App, fuboTV
The Cotton Bowl semifinal between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Sean McDonough (play-by-play) and Todd Blackledge (color) will call the game from the booth while Molly McGrath and Laura Rutledge report from the sidelines. You can also stream the game with the ESPN app or live with fuboTV, which offers a free seven-day trial.
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|
Alabama vs. Cincinnati start time
- Date: Friday, Dec. 31
- Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
Alabama vs. Cincinnati will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
CFP ODDS: Why Bama can win | Why Cincy can win
Alabama schedule 2021
|vs. No. 14 Miami (Atlanta)||Sept. 4||Alabama 44, Miami 13|
|vs. Mercer||Sept. 11||Alabama 48, Mercer 14|
|at No. 11 Florida||Sept. 18||Alabama 31, Florida 29|
|vs. Southern Miss||Sept. 25||Alabama 63, Southern Miss 14|
|vs. No. 12 Ole Miss||Oct. 2||Alabama 42, Ole Miss 21|
|at Texas A&M||Oct. 9||Texas A&M 41, Alabama 38|
|at Mississippi State||Oct. 16||Alabama 49, Mississippi State 9|
|vs. Tennessee||Oct. 23||Alabama 52, Tennessee 24|
|vs. LSU||Nov. 6||Alabama 20, LSU 14|
|vs. New Mexico State||Nov. 13||Alabama 59, New Mexico State 3|
|vs. No. 21 Arkansas||Nov. 20||Alabama 42, Arkansas 35|
|at Auburn||Nov. 27||Alabama 24, Auburn 22 (4OT)|
|vs. No. 1 Georgia (SEC championship)||Dec. 4||Alabama 41, Georgia 24|
|vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (CFP semifinal)||Dec. 31||TBD|
Cincinnati schedule 2021
|vs. Miami (Ohio)||Sept. 4||Cincinnati 49, Miami (Ohio) 14|
|vs. Murray State||Sept. 11||Cincinnati 42, Murray State 7|
|at Indiana||Sept. 18||Cincinnati 38, Indiana 24|
|at No. 9 Notre Dame||Oct. 2||Cincinnati 24, Notre Dame 13|
|vs. Temple||Oct. 9||Cincinnati 52, Temple 3|
|vs. UCF||Oct. 16||Cincinnati 56, UCF 21|
|at Navy||Oct. 23||Cincinnati 27, Navy 20|
|at Tulane||Oct. 30||Cincinnati 31, Tulane 12|
|vs. Tulsa||Nov. 6||Cincinnati 28, Tulsa 20|
|at USF||Nov. 13||Cincinnati 45, USF 28|
|vs. SMU||Nov. 20||Cincinnati 48, SMU 14|
|at East Carolina||Nov. 26||Cincinnati 35, East Carolina 13|
|vs. No. 21 Houston (AAC championship)||Dec. 4||Cincinnati 35, Houston 20|
|vs. No. 1 Alabama (CFP semifinal)||Dec. 31||TBD|