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The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide can't afford to slip up on Friday when they take on the fourth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2021 Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Alabama (12-1) played lots of close games this season and lost to Texas A&M in October, but it is in line for its seventh national title under coach Nick Saban. First it needs to get past Cincinnati (13-0), which has beaten all comers and will be hungry to prove it belongs among the nation's elite. It is the first Group of Five program to reach the College Football Playoff, while the Tide are making their seventh CFP appearance in eight years.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET at AT&T Stadium. Caesars Sportsbook lists the Crimson Tide as the 13.5-point favorite in its latest Cincinnati vs. Alabama Cotton Bowl odds, and the over-under for total points is 57.5. Before you make your Alabama vs. Cincinnati Cotton Bowl picks, you need to see what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past five-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of almost $3,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It also enters the third week of the 2021-22 college football bowl season on a 43-30 run on all top-rated college football side picks. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has zeroed in on the Cincinnati vs. Alabama Cotton Bowl matchup, and just released its picks and 2021 College Football Playoff predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model's Cotton Bowl picks. Here are the CFB odds and betting lines for Alabama vs. Cincinnati:

  • Alabama vs. Cincinnati spread: Crimson Tide -13.5 
  • Alabama vs. Cincinnati over-under: 57.5 points 
  • Alabama vs. Cincinnati money line: Bearcats +425, Tide -600
  • CINN: It is 8-3 ATS vs. ranked opponents since 2018 
  • ALA: It is 6-5 ATS in neutral-site games since 2018
Featured Game | Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Why the Crimson Tide can cover

Alabama is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven neutral-site games, and the offense hasn't regressed much despite major losses. QB Bryce Young's unit scores 42.5 points per game, fourth-best in the nation, and it can do damage through the air or on the ground. Young is fourth in the nation in passing yards (4,322) and second in TDs (43) as he completes 68 percent of his passes and averages 9.4 yards per attempt (eighth in FBS). WR Jameson Williams is fifth in the nation with 1,445 yards and also fifth in averaging 21.3 yards per catch.

The Tide offense averages 495 yards (sixth in FBS), and RB Brian Robinson Jr. provides balance as he has 1,071 rushing yards and 14 TDs. Alabama is 48-35 ATS vs. ranked teams under Saban (since 2007), and the defense has had some issues against the pass but ranks seventh in total yards (304.6 per game). It also has the third-most sacks in the nation with 46, and Will Anderson Jr. shares the national lead with 15.5. Phidarian Mathis has eight sacks and two fumble recoveries, and DBs DeMarcco Hellams and Jordan Battle have three interceptions apiece.

Why the Bearcats can cover

Cincinnati is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 after allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards in its previous game, and Houston rushed for 86 yards in the AAC title game. The Bearcats defense has been dominant, ranking second against the pass (167.5 yards per game) and allowing just 16.1 points (fifth). The unit has 29 takeaways (T-3 in FBS), and NFL-level corners Ahmad Gardner (three interceptions) and Coby Bryant (four) will make it tough on Bama's wideouts. Defensive tackle Curtis Brooks (7.5 sacks) also will try to harass Young, who has been sacked 33 times this season.

The Bearcats are 5-0 ATS in their last five as an underdog, and the offense also is capable of making a difference as the unit averages 6.9 yards per play (sixth in FBS), while Cincy opponents are averaging 4.3 (third). RB Jerome Ford rushed for 187 and two scores against the Cougars to give him 1,242 yards and 19 TDs this season. He balances out an offense that also features the passing of Desmond Ridder, who has 3,190 yards, 30 TDs and eight interceptions. WRs Alec Pierce (867 yards) and Tyler Scott (18.3 yards per catch) also can make the big plays.

How to make Cincinnati vs. Alabama Cotton Bowl picks

The model is leaning under on the total, projecting 56 combined points. It has also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can only get the model's Cotton Bowl picks at SportsLine

So who wins Friday's Alabama vs. Cincinnati Cotton Bowl Classic matchup? And which side of the spread is hitting well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Cincinnati vs. Alabama Cotton Bowl spread to back Friday, all from the advanced model on a 43-30 run on its top-rated college football picks, and find out.