ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Brian Robinson Jr. ran for a career-high 204 yards and top-ranked Alabama rolled into yet another national championship game by overwhelming the first non-Power Five team to make the College Football Playoff.
Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young threw three touchdown passes while mostly avoiding Cincinnati’s standout cornerbacks and the Crimson Tide beat the Bearcats 27-6 in the CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl on Friday. It was the sixth semifinal victory in a row for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama (13-1) has missed the four-team playoff only once and will try to win its second national title in a row and fourth in the eight seasons of the CFP format with coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide will play either No. 2 Michigan or No. 3 Georgia, the previously undefeated team Alabama beat for the SEC title, in the championship game Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.
Alabama clearly was doing what it could to minimize the impact of cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant, and pretty much succeeded with Robinson pounding on the ground and Young throwing a lot of short, safe passes — though he did find hit Ja’Core Brooks for a 44-yard catch-and-run TD on a play away from the standout defenders for a 17-3 lead just before halftime.
The Crimson Tide opened the game with 10 consecutive runs before putting three receivers opposite of Gardner, who hasn’t given up a TD in coverage in his college career. Young found Slade Bolden open in the left flat for an 8-yard TD pass that put Alabama ahead to stay.
With their own dynamic quarterback in Desmond Ridder, the NFL prospect who returned for an extra season for just this chance, the Bearcats (13-1) were the nation’s only undefeated team until facing the playoff standard bearer.
Ridder was sacked six times and outside of a 9-yard run on the opening play of the second half never got to be hurt Bama with his feet. He was 17 of 32 for 144 yards.
Young completed 17 of 28 passes for 181 yards in the playoff game, four weeks after setting an SEC championship game record with 421 yards passing in a win over Georgia and three weeks after becoming the first Crimson Tide QB to win the Heisman Trophy.