College Football Playoff Odds: Why Cincinnati Has Value Vs. Alabama

Written By Eli Hershkovich on December 28, 2021 - Last Updated on December 31, 2021
2021 College Football Playoff

Typically, I’m not one partake in late-December college football matchups because of the variability. The motivation from many teams is difficult to gauge. That is unless we’re dissecting the main event of betting New Year’s Six games — College Football Playoff odds.

Let’s dissect my favorite play for the semifinal matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati.

Click on the odds below to place a bet now. You can continue the discussion in our betting community, as we break down all of the games throughout the week.

2021 College Football Playoff: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati

Bettors last saw Nick Saban’s team thrash then-No. 1 ranked Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Hence, the Crimson Tide ( to win national championship) are overvalued against the Bearcats from a market perspective. Nevertheless, does Cincinnati () present the pieces to hang around for 60 minutes?

For one, Luke Fickell’s squad boasts the second-best net points per drive across college football. That metric takes into account each side of the ball, showcasing the dominance of the Bearcats’ units.

Cincinnati’s offense is most explosive through the air, notching the sixth-highest passing success rate (SR). Granted, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett struggled versus Alabama’s improved defense, tossing a pair of second-half interceptions. But we saw Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Florida’s Emory Jones, who both possess a duel-threat ability, have success in their respective matchups.

  • SR showcases whether a play is successful if a team gains:
    • 50 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down
    • 70 percent of yards to gain on second down
    • 100 percent of yards to gain on third or fourth down

Bearcats signal caller Desmond Ridder is less likely to use his legs than either of those quarterbacks, yet he’s more of rushing threat in comparison to Bennett. Don’t expect Cincinnati’s backfield to find much space at the second level against the Tide’s defensive front, but Ridder could spark the passing game if he forces Saban to use a spy because of his rushing ability.

Alabama also ranks No. 55 in opponents’ dropback SR — the most vulnerable part of its defense.

On the flip side, Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young will be up against a Bearcats defense yielding the 15th-lowest passing SR. Even though Young was ultra-efficient on third downs the last time out, wide receiver John Metchie III (ACL) will be held out of this contest. Fellow wideout Jameson Williams will likely be blanketed by cornerback Ahmad Garner, who leads all FBS defensive backs in pass efficiency among those with at least 300 coverage snaps.

A pair of touchdowns — or near it — is too rich for Alabama. There should be value in this number up until kickoff.

Eli’s Bet: Cincinnati +14 (-115, placed at FanDuel Sportsbook on Thursday, Dec. 16)
College Football Playoff Odds To Target: Cincinnati +13.5 or better
Best Available Line: Cincinnati

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Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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