ARLINGTON, TX – No.4 Cincinnati vs. No.1 Alabama, David vs. Goliath, only this time, Goliath came out the victor and David left in defeat.
Faced with a tall task of going up against Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, cornerback Ahmad Gardner and his 8th ranked defense looked to slow down Heisman winner Bryce Young.
Young, however was not the story in this one, it was the rushing attack of the Tide who ran for over 300 yards on the nation’s 44th ranked rush defense. Gardner was asked about giving up 300+ yards and what his defense could have done to stop it, “I don’t know what we could have done. We did what we prepared to do, as far as the way we ran our defense. Hats off to them. They had a great O-line, great backs, and they showed that,” said Gardner.
With Gardner’s response, one must wonder if the Bearcats prepared for Young to be the show (28 pass attempts and 47 rushing attempts for Alabama) and neglected to focus on the run game, with nearly a month to prepare for the number one team in the nation.
Who is to blame for the feeble effort to stop the run and lack of preparation that was on display at AT&T Stadium?
Despite the all-around disappointing performance from the Bearcats, a door was opened for Cincinnati and other less prestigious programs.
Cornerback Coby Bryant was asked about the outcome of the game affecting how Cincinnati and other teams are viewed, “Like I said, we don’t really pay attention to the outside noise and what people think of us.
Honestly, it’s about the team. Just like I announced in the locker room for the leaders that are coming back next year, lead those guys better than what I did,” said Bryant.
The Cincinnati Bearcats have done just that with their impressive season, they opened doors for other schools to have a shot at the CFB playoff.
Defensively, the Bearcats had a difficult night stopping the Alabama offense, but the Cincinnati offense struggled to the tune of 144 passing yards and two field goals for the game.
Wide receiver Alec Pierce was asked about his offense getting shut down by the Alabama defense, “I think they did a really good job getting after the quarterback and just not allowing us to have time to go through our progressions and give the receivers a chance to make plays,” said Pierce.
Pierce was held to two catches for 17 yards.
Cincinnati will have the opportunity next year to prove that this season was not a fluke, that they belong, and that the committee did not make a mistake selecting them for the playoffs.
If Cincinnati can come back in 2022 and make another run at the playoffs, then the door will surely be open and the committee will have no choice but to take the less prestigious college football programs more serious going forward when they have seasons like the Bearcats had.