Cincinnati, meanwhile, was attempting to justify that it belonged on the identical field.
The Bearcats (13-1) were also carrying the banner for schools outside the so-called Power 5 conferences — the Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Pacific-12 — and the independent Notre Dame. No school outside of that privileged class, where most of school sports’ hundreds of thousands stream, had reached the playoff, which was instituted for the 2014 season. Central Florida was shut out twice despite back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons.
If the Bearcats left the sector having acquitted themselves well, in addition they carried with them some regrets: settling for a field goal early when Ridder fired a omit the top of Alec Pierce ultimately zone; not having the ability to jump on a fumbled punt deep in Alabama territory and doing little with safety Bryan Cook’s interception near midfield.
Mostly, though, Cincinnati will rue not having the ability to get Alabama off the sector on decisive downs. The Crimson Tide converted five of nine plays on third and fourth downs through the first half, and got out of a third-and-16 hole late within the third period when Young connected with Jameson Williams for 20 yards over the center.
As much because the teams have spent the last month preparing for one another, they’ve also been preoccupied with avoiding the most recent burst of coronavirus cases, which had caused seven teams to drag out of bowl games. Two Alabama assistant coaches, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone, needed to isolate for greater than every week before rejoining the team this week. The colleges didn’t say that any players had tested positive leading as much as the sport.
If the teams were vigilant, restricting media access to video calls amongst other measures, little else concerning the environment hinted at a pandemic.
Some bars and restaurants across the country require that patrons show proof of vaccination, however it was hard to seek out any in local entertainment districts that even required masks to enter. The identical was true of AT&T Stadium, where mask-wearing fans were a small fraction of the gang of 76,313 and an indication outside the press box read: “Masks are encouraged.”
“I don’t think it’s a priority for people here,” said Christy Schmidt, who along along with her husband, Mark, had driven from Cincinnati for the sport. Every time they stopped for food or gas on the nearly 950-mile drive, they bumped into fellow Bearcats fans, who outnumbered Alabama fans by a noticeable margin on Friday. (Their fans roared when the Cincinnati alum Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end, appeared on the stadium’s video screen alongside his quarterback Patrick Mahomes; receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Trevon Diggs, former Alabama stars now with the Dallas Cowboys, watched from the Tide’s sideline.)