Alabama Wins Orange Bowl Over Cincinnati: Reaction, Analysis, 5 Thoughts

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Alabama beat Cincinnati to win the Capital One Orange Bowl. Five thoughts and analysis of the game, and what it all means.

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Alabama beat Cincinnati 27-6: Capital One Orange Bowl 5 Things That Matter

Final Score: Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6
CFN Prediction: Alabama 37, Cincinnati 20
Line: Alabama -13, o/u: 57.5

5. Alabama played like it knew Cincinnati wasn’t going to score

Bryce Young overshot his guy on one throw, but he didn’t take a whole lot of chances.

Alabama kept running the ball because it worked, but also because it didn’t want to do anything crazy.

Alabama was able to come up with a business-like, safe performance on offense, because the defense that had its rocky moments this season stepped up its play to the College Football Playoff level – and it seemed to know that Cincinnati didn’t have a prayer of doing anything big offensively.

That’s not Cincinnati’s fault. Desmond Ridder didn’t have any time to work, Jerome Ford didn’t get free to run, and that’s all because the Bama defensive front took over and held from late in the first Bearcat drive on.

From jump, this looked like an Alabama team that was comfortable in its position and surroundings.

That was Alabama knowing it was Alabama and Cincinnati wasn’t.

However …

Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
4. Bryce Young was fine, but …
3. That’s the Brian Robinson Bama needed
2. Cincinnati lost, but it was just fine
1. Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

NEXT: Bryce Young was fine, but …

4. Bryce Young was fine, but …

Bryce Young threw three touchdown passes. He only made the one mistake with a misfire for an interception, and he ran a wee bit just to loosen things up a bit.

But he also didn’t take any big chances and didn’t try anything spectacular, mainly because he didn’t have to.

That wasn’t exactly a Heisman-caliber performance, but connecting on 17-of-28 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns was good enough.

That’s not going to fly, though, in Indianapolis.

Bama isn’t going to get the running game going like it did against the Bearcats, and it’s going to need Young to hit a few throws under stress. That’s what he’s best at, that’s what got the team to this point through the ups-and-downs, and that’s going to have to come with a few deep shots and a bigger performance.

There’s no reason to worry about 9. He’ll be fine. It helped though, that …

Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5. Alabama played like it knew Cincinnati wasn’t going to score
3. That’s the Brian Robinson Bama needed
2. Cincinnati lost, but it was just fine
1. Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

NEXT: That’s the Brian Robinson Bama needed

3. That’s the Brian Robinson Bama needed

Brian Robinson was a dominant force when he was able to get though his various injuries, but he just wasn’t ever quite right stretches.

He ripped through Ole Miss for 171 yards and was great in the loss to Texas A&M, but late in the year he was part of the overall puzzle of an offense that revolved around Bryce Young and the high-powered passing game.

But against Cincinnati, that was the Brian Robinson who had a month off to get right.

It helped that the offensive line had one of its better performances for the ground attack – Trey Sanders was a hammer in the rotation and closed things out – but it was Robinson from the opening drive who set the tone for the game.

Robinson finished with 204 yards on 26 carries, and then he wasn’t overworked in the fourth quarter to save things for Indianapolis.

It’s not like the Alabama running game will ever be ignored, but focus a bit more on the ground attack that rolled for over 300 yards, and Bryce Young will get to have a whole lot of fun.

Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5. Alabama played like it knew Cincinnati wasn’t going to score
4. Bryce Young was fine, but …
2. Cincinnati lost, but it was just fine
1. Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

NEXT: Cincinnati lost, but it was just fine

2. Cincinnati lost, but it was just fine

2015 Michigan State had the experience and talent and coaching and attitude to give Alabama a push in the College Football Playoff, and …

38-0 Alabama, and it wasn’t even that close.

2016 Washington had a hard-nosed team that won a Pac-12 title and had the make-up to be a problem for the Tide. The defense came up with a decent day in the 2016 Peach Bowl, and …

24-7 Alabama.

Clemson was the No. 1 seed in the 2018 College Football Playoff, and Alabama spent the game jumping on QB Kelly Bryant’s head in a 24-6 Sugar Bowl win.

Notre Dame’s 31-14 Rose Bowl loss last year was only that close because Alabama wanted it to be, the national championship against Ohio State wasn’t much better, and …

Forgive the long-winded lead-up. Cincinnati lost, and it was never really in it, and it was okay.

That could’ve been any team – Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Baylor, almost anyone – and a 27-6 loss wouldn’t have been shocking.

The 218 yards of total offense were disappointing, and the run defense will be down about getting plowed over, but the secondary was fine, the game never got out of hand, and it wasn’t a bad showing all things considered.

Forget the Group of Five tag. Cincinnati played against Alabama like another Power Five team.

Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5. Alabama played like it knew Cincinnati wasn’t going to score
4. Bryce Young was fine, but …
3. That’s the Brian Robinson Bama needed
1. Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

NEXT: Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

1. Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

Yeah, rooting for Alabama is like cheering for Amazon’s stock to improve by a quarter of a point or for Pete Davidson to find love again, but appreciate the greatness.

This is Tiger Woods. This is Tom Brady. This is McDonald’s Diet Coke. This is consistency year after year after year with a program that continues to roll at the highest of levels and under the most pressure possible.

Think about it. Alabama was dead.

One run by Auburn out of bounds. One more big play by LSU. One two-point conversion by Florida. A few more late moments by Arkansas. There were several things that could’ve – and probably should’ve – happened that would’ve knocked out the Tide, but they’re here. They’re in the national championship, and it’s not boring.

Blow off all those who’ll whine about the same old boring team in the title game again. Ignore all those who’ll pretend they won’t watch the national championship.

This Alabama run will eventually end.

But not yet.

Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff 5 Thoughts
5. Alabama played like it knew Cincinnati wasn’t going to score
4. Bryce Young was fine, but …
3. That’s the Brian Robinson Bama needed
2. Cincinnati lost, but it was just fine
1. Alabama is still great, and it’s okay

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