No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Cincinnati to Clash in 2021 CFP Semifinal at the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
By Cotton Bowl Communications
Posted on December 05, 2021, December 05, 2021

No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati are set to clash in the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.

The stage is set for another Classic like no other on New Year's Eve as No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati are set to clash in the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN and ESPN Radio.

This matchup marks the fifth meeting between Alabama and Cincinnati and the first since 1990 when the Crimson Tide defeated the Bearcats, 45-7, in Birmingham. The Tide are undefeated all-time against Cincinnati. Alabama is the first No. 1 team to play in the Classic since Texas in 1978. All-time, the Crimson Tide is the sixth No. 1 team to play in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

Alabama (12-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) is making their eighth Cotton Bowl Classic appearance and first since defeating Michigan State, 38-0, in the CFP Semifinal on New Year's Eve in 2015. Overall, the Crimson Tide are 4-4 in the Classic, with their first appearance in 1942, a 29-21 victory over Texas A&M. The Crimson Side are making their seventh appearance in the College Football Playoff and are aiming for their fourth National Championship in the CFP era.

Cincinnati (13-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference), the first team from a Group of Five conference to play in a CFP Semifinal, enters the postseason as the only NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team with a perfect record. Led by senior quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Bearcats bared down all season to post the first 13-0 record in school history and capture their second-straight AAC title. Cincinnati is making its first Cotton Bowl Classic appearance.

"Our 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is truly poised to be a Classic with two remarkable programs in Alabama and Cincinnati," said Bry Patton, Chairman, Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. "We are thrilled to welcome them to North Texas and showcase our Classic hospitality and provide memorable experiences for the teams and fans alike that will last a lifetime."

Alabama, led by Heisman Trophy favorite Bryce Young, comes into the contest riding high as the top seed after its convincing win over then No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Football Championship Game. Interestingly, the Crimson Tide's last two postseason appearances at AT&T Stadium have been wins in CFP Semifinals – 38-0 over Michigan State in the 80th Classic in 2016 and 31-14 over Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game played on earlier this year on New Year's Day.

The 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl is the 13th Classic to be played at AT&T Stadium and the fourth CFP Semifinal, including last season's Rose Bowl.

This year's Classic marks the fifth-straight year and seventh all-time to be played in December – 1966 (SMU vs. Georgia on December 31), 2015 (Michigan State vs. Alabama on December 31), 2017 (Southern California vs. Ohio State on December 29), 2018 (Notre Dame vs. Clemson on December 29), 2019 (Memphis vs. Penn State on December 28) and 2020 (Florida vs. Oklahoma on December 30).

The 86th Classic is sold out through the Cotton Bowl Classic ticket office. Tickets are available via the Alabama and Cincinnati athletics ticket offices and SeatGeek, the Classic's official secondary market ticket provider. Suites are available for purchase by calling 817-892-4470 or sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Ticket holders for this year's game must use the Cotton Bowl Classic app, available for download on iOS and Android devices, to manage tickets and parking to enter AT&T Stadium on game day. Fans and followers can keep up with the latest information on bowl week and game day activities and events at

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AT&T Stadium, Entertainment District, College Football Playoff
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