This Is How Cincinnati Wins
Cincinnati has a rare luxury entering its playoff semifinal bout with Alabama, set for, as this newsletter posts, about three hours from now. In fact, it has two.
First things first, these Bearcats are one of the few programs during the Nick Saban era at Alabama that seem, on paper, to have a clean shot at beating the Crimson Tide just by winning one-on-one matchups. No fancy game-planning, no elaborate scheming, no game-breaking quarterback required.
Unless Alabama really has fixed each problem that ailed it prior to the SEC title game, this is a bunch with defined and obvious weaknesses on both sides of the football, and strengths that Cincinnati matches up with as well as any team in the country.
The Bearcats have top-tier cornerbacks to answer Alabama’s explosive passing attack and a front that can generate pressure without needing help from blitzing linebackers. They have one of the best defensive head coaches in the country to answer to Alabama’s high-scoring group and two years of a track record in excellent in-game adjustments under his guidance.
If anyone is going to shut Alabama down, it’s a team that isn’t afraid to match up with it one-on-one and hit it with man coverage and four-man rushes all game. Auburn nearly rode it to a win, as did LSU – neither of which are on Cincinnati’s level defensively.