Robinson leads Alabama past Cincinnati, into national championship game

ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s been a long time for Brian Robinson Jr. After waiting his turn for four years in the Alabama-laden backfield, the Tuscaloosa native took advantage of the general waiver of NCAA eligibility this season to return for a Final title race with his hometown Crimson Tide.

That decision was made for a moment like this.

Robinson rushed to a career record of 204 yards to help lead the Alabama No.1 to a 27-6 win over Cincinnati No.4 in Friday’s Cotton Bowl semi-final. Alabama will advance to play in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 10 in Indianapolis against the winner of the Orange Bowl match between No. 2 of Michigan and No. 3 of Georgia on Friday.

“As a kid, I always wanted to be a part of this program,” said Robinson, who starred at Hillcrest High School, eight miles from the Alabama campus. “I’ve always wanted to play for a national championship. Just to be able to go out there and lead this team in this big game on this big stage, to have the opportunity to play for a national championship, as a young man, that’s all ever wanted. to do. It is a dream that becomes reality “.

For most of the season, the Crimson Tides have relied on quarterback Bryce Young to push their offense forward. However, a Bearcats’ secondary miser limited the Heisman Trophy winner to a seasonal low of 181 yards in the air.

Fortunately for Alabama (13-1), Cincinnati (13-1) did not find the same answer for Robinson, who was named the game’s offensive player. The bruise in his back tore 134 yards before half-time while Young got off to an unusually slow start. After Young began to find his pace later in the game, Robinson continued to tear through the Bearcats’ defensive front, allowing Tide to grind away for victory.

Young finished day 17 of 28 for 181 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. While not up to his typical standards, the performance helped the sophomore set school records in a single season in past yards (4,503), past touchdowns (46) and total touchdowns (49).

While Robinson and Young led the Alabama attack, Tide’s defense eliminated any possibility of upset on the other side of the ball. Alabama limited Cincinnati to 218 total yards. The Bearcats also recorded the lowest score since a 42-0 defeat to Ohio State in 2019.

Cincinnati are the first Group of Five team to make an appearance in the College Football Playoff since it was founded in 2014. For most of the day, the Bearcats looked out of place.

Alabama has sacked Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder six times while making many of his passes on the scrimmage line. Ridder, who finished eighth in the Heisman vote this season, finished the day 17 of 32 for 144 yards. Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford, an Alabama transfer, logged 77 yards on 15 transports, but saw his attempts limited in the second half as the Bearcats’ growing deficit prevented them from running the ball.

Alabama rusher Will Anderson Jr. has earned the title of defensive player of the game, recording six tackles, including two sacks. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner now has 17.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles for one defeat this season. Alabama defender Brian Branch led the team with eight stops and two passing detours while also recording half a sack.

“I think we made a great statement,” Anderson said. “Over the course of the season, we started to improve in defense, reducing mental errors and things like that. Going into our final match, I think it’s really crucial now that we pay attention to the small details and make sure we are all on the same line for keep reducing those mental errors, keep flying around, have fun and play together as a unit. ”

Friday’s victory was not without cost for Alabama as it saw right-hand starting guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. leave the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. The junior redshirt was replaced by five-star freshman JC Latham.

“We think he has a chance to return to play in the [national championship] game, but it’s probably too early to know, “Saban said after the game.” It depends on how he responds.

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