2021 CFP: Can Cincinnati Beat Alabama?

Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder will face Alabama for a chance at a National Championship
Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a storybook year for Cincinnati – an undefeated season that now has the G5 team facing perennial powerhouse Alabama. Can the Bearcats continue this run and pull off a major upset against Alabama? They are currently a 13.5-point favorite over the AAC champion, which is understandable.

No matter what you think about the media and the SEC, Alabama has faced a tougher schedule than the Bearcats. The AAC is not a murderer’s row and, to be fair, UC did struggle at times. That said, there is a way that UC can stay in this game and possibly win. Let’s take a look at they keys to a win for Cincinnati against Alabama.

No John Metchie

First, the defense needs to take advantage of the absence of Alabama wide receiver John Metchie. Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant need to shut down Alabama quarterback (and Heisman winner) Bryce Young’s remaining weapons and force the Tide into running the ball. Alabama turned in poor rushing performances late in the season (six yards against LSU) and taking Young and Jameson Williams (his top receiver) out of the picture will be beneficial for the ‘Cats.

Win time of possession battle

Second, the offense needs to control the ball. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder will present a major problem for the Alabama defense. A true dual threat, he can beat this defense through the air and on the ground. That said, Ridder and crew will need to control the ball on the ground, then take shots when available. This where Jerome Ford comes in.

Ford rushed for 100 yards five times this season and nearly 200 against Houston in the AAC Championship game. If he can put up this sort of production in the Cotton Bowl, keeping the ball out of Alabama’s hands, Cincinnati could pull off the upset. Positive yardage on first and second downs to keep manageable third-down situations will also help Ridder be effective throwing the ball.

DISCIPLINE

Finally, luck and eliminating mistakes. Face it, UC is the underdog and what does the underdog need to pull off the major upset? Luck. At some point, the ball is going to have to bounce Cincinnati’s way. Perhaps a deflected pass that ends up as an interception, a dropped hand-off that bounces right to a defensive lineman, a gadget play at just the right time to catch Alabama off guard — something weird will happen and it has to go the Bearcats’ way.

Also, Ridder and crew have to protect the ball. Cincinnati can not give this Alabama offense additional opportunities to score – it will be tough enough to stop them without turning the ball over.

Can Cincinnati Beat Alabama?

Is a Cotton Bowl victory and shot at a National Championship in UC’s future? Not many people think so, but if the Bearcats can take advantage of Alabama’s injuries on offense, control the ball, and get a bit of luck … it is possible.

Be sure to check out Around The Block for more coverage of the CFB playoffs.

Transfer Portal Names to Watch

The Transfer Portal. The new mystical land of limitless possibilities in college football. We have seen projected #1 QB’s, former top recruits, and countless sleepers enter the portal. The season isn’t even over yet and we already have plenty of big names to talk about, let’s look at a few of my favorites so far:

Big Names in the Transfer Portal

TCU RB Zach Evans has entered the transfer portal
Photo Credit: http://www.gofrogs.com

Zach Evans, RB

This feels like the easy one. A five-star recruit out of high school and the number 2 RB in his class, Evans recruitment was… a roller coaster. In his last week before commitment, he got projections to five schools: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Texas. He went to none of them. Instead, he went to TCU and now he’s leaving as a sophomore. Where could Evans go? Great question. Maybe one of those schools named — but definitely not Alabama, as they already got Gibbs.

Jadan Blue, WR

Not a huge name, but Blue has been really good for the Temple Owls. Blue will be on the move this off-season and will be looking to move up in the conference ranks to face better talent. Blue is a quick, sure handed wide receiver who will be a huge pickup for whatever team grabs him.

Names You need to know from the Transfer Portal

Cameron Ward, QB

Some of you might be saying “Who?” and well, that’s fair honestly. The quarterback for Incarnate Word is one of the best transfers on the market. With offers from Texas and Texas A&M, Ward isn’t just some guy from a small school. He is very good. Ward threw the football 509 times this year and only had 10 INTs to his 47 TDs. Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, and Western Kentucky have all extended offers to Ward. Ward and Kiffin would be lethal.

Jacob Cowing, WR

The UTEP standout wide receiver is on the move. Luckily for me, he has already posted a top eight teams but we will get to the one I think he joins in a bit. Cowing is really good. High points the ball well, great hands and better route running.

Cowing listed Arizona State, Oregon, LSU, Liberty, Virginia Tech, Arizona, South Carolina, and Miss. State in his latest Instagram post. It would seem South Carolina’s quarterback for next year would like to add Cowing to the Gamecocks offense.

Is the transfer portal killing college football?

No. Don’t listen to Dabo, the transfer portal gives teams chances to add experience to young rosters. More than that though, it gives players another chance. Players don’t decide if a 5-star comes in behind him nor if their coach leaves for a better job. Let the kids make the most of their shot at the NFL.

Is Kayshon Boutte set to hit the Transfer Portal?

LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte seems set to hit the transfer portal

Huge news out of Baton Rouge, and not of the good variety for LSU fans. Star wide receiver, Kayshon Boutte, is considering entering the transfer portal — but that might not be the worst of it for LSU. Could a transfer to Alabama be on the way?

Why is Kayshon Boutte transferring?

With Ed O gone and a mass exodus of players leaving LSU, Boutte figured it’s his turn. Brian Kelly and his staff seem to be losing any and all veteran talent. The prime example being Eli Ricks going to Alabama. Boutte is a former Freshman All-American, and has huge upside who could easily be a WR1 on many teams in college football.

Kayshon Boutte is a guy who can catch anything that’s thrown his way. However, with sub par quarterback play, he is being been held back. A leg injury ended Boutte’s 20211 season with the Tigers, and a change of scenery now seems necessary. Where will he end up? Well, if you look at his twitter, it feels pretty obvious.

Where will Kayshon Boutte transfer to:

Now, with teammate Eli Ricks headed to Alabama, and the Tide being his number two out of high school, it seems fairly clear that Nick Saban and Alabama are early front runners for Kayshon Boutte. Pete Golding, Bama’s defensive coordinator, tweeted this on December 13th:

Which Boutte then liked. Out of high school, Golding recruited Boutte to Alabama along with Holmon Wiggins who is also still at Alabama. The Tide feel like the top contender for the top wide receiver.

If not Bama then where else:

Honestly, this is a little tricky. I don’t think there is another option, Boutte could always surprise us and choose someone out of left field, but there isn’t really another spot that makes sense. Justin Stepp, who recruited him to Arkansas is now at South Carolina, and the other two teams in his top five have different staffs all together.

I believe Kayshon Boutte is Alabama bound, but be wary of the surprise team that could always pop in and take him.

Around the Block’s Heisman Winner

Heisman Winner
Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

The 2021 regular season of college football came to a close this last weekend, which means award season is upon us. The winner of this year’s Heisman ceremony is on December 11th, at 8 p.m. eastern standard time. You can watch the ceremony on ESPN.

We at Around the Block decided to do our poll to see who would be named ATB’s Heisman winner. After polling ten site members, the members concluded that Will Anderson of Alabama is the winner.

Anderson, unlike others receiving Heisman votes (Aidan Hutchinson, Kenny Pickett, Bryce Young, and C.J. Stroud) from ATB members, will not be traveling to New York with the other aforementioned finalists.

Anderson finished the 2021 regular season with 29.0 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks for the Crimson Tide. Anderson is the best edge rusher in college football. He helped to lead Alabama to where they are now, the college football playoffs.

His teammate Bryce Young is the runner-up, and Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and C.J. Stroud of Ohio State tied; however, Stroud received more first-place votes, thus, giving him the nod. Other receiving votes in the poll, were Kenny Pickett of Pitt, and Kenneth Walker of Michigan State.

Heisman Winner Votes

Will Anderson: First Place (3), Second Place (6), Third Place (1)

Bryce Young: First Place (4), Second Place (2), Third Place (1)

C.J. Stroud: First Place (2), Third Place (1)

Aidan Hutchinson: Second Place (2), Third Place (3)

Kenny Pickett: First Place (1), Third Place (1)

Kenneth Walker: Third Place (3)

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Only The Strong Will Survive: Texas Longhorns Offseason Edition

A Guide to Surviving 9 Months Without Texas Longhorns Football

The 2021 football season has now been over for two weeks. There has been an abundance of news to keep fans entertained these past couple weeks. However, the offseason for college football is the longest of all the popular sports in America. How do Texas fans survive nine months without watching their beloved football program? I will outline some ways that fans can keep busy in order to get through yet another long Texas Longhorns offseason.

Watch other Longhorn Sports Teams

The athletic department at the University of Texas has been very successful as of late. In fact last year, for the first time ever, Texas won the 2020-2021 Learfield IMG College Directors Cup for best overall athletic department. This year is shaping up to be another good year for Chris Del Conte’s department. The volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Elite 8 last night with a dramatic victory over Washington. Their quest for an NCAA championship should not be ignored by loyal Longhorn fans.

Men’s and Women’s basketball have both started up and are off to good starts. Vic Schaefer has the Lady Longhorns off to a 6-1 start and a #11 ranking. First year coach Chris Beard has the student body energized and currently has the Men’s team ranked #7 with a 6-2 record. There are plenty of exciting games to catch against defending National Champion Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, and a returning Rick Barnes with his Tennessee Volunteer squad.

Also, this spring the defending Big XII regular season champion baseball team will begin their journey back to Omaha. Coach David Pierce will try to collect more hardware in the Big XII before the Longhorns head to the murder’s row of college baseball, the SEC.

National Signing Day and the Transfer Portal

If you are really only interested in Texas Football, there are plenty of ways to keep busy. The first thing upcoming is the early National Signing Day period. High School prospects will have their first chance to sign between December 15th and December 17th. Texas is in the running for a really strong class and should close strong. You can read more about what prospects we are in the running for here. In addition to these three dates, there will also be a signing day on February 2, 2022.

There are also plenty of intriguing players in the transfer portal that could possibly help the Longhorn football program immediately. The biggest of these names is Texas native Quinn Ewers. He will be on campus this weekend. We will be sure to update everyone if anything develops with Quinn Ewers this weekend. You can read more about Quinn Ewers here, here, and here.

Coaching Changes

Unlike what seems like most of the college football world, Texas is not having to go through a coaching search. This continuality should help the program on the field and on the recruiting trail. However, there will always be changes made to the assistant coaching staff. Who could Steve Sarkisian add to the staff to improve the defense in 2022? Names like Gary Patterson and Jimmy Lake have been floated. It remains to be seen if either are hired or what roles they would have. This is yet another topic that fans can spend hours reading up on to pass the time.

Keep Up on the News with ATB Longhorns

ATB Longhorns will be sure to keep everyone in the loop on all things Texas Longhorns. Be sure to check back for our takes on anything and everything that happens this offseason. You can read about the upcoming quarterback battle here or about how NIL is shaping the future of Texas here.

Thank you for your support. Follow me and the team on Twitter: @tn_longhorn,  @longhorns_atb@ryanmcaloon, & @michaelfarber_.

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