ARLINGTON, Texas – The Alabama Crimson Tide, the No. 1 team in the nation, completed its final full practice of the week on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Friday’s 2021 College Football Playoff (CFP) Semifinal at the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
The Tide worked for just more than 90 minutes at AT&T Stadium. Alabama will conduct a walk-thru on Thursday before taking the field against the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday afternoon.
Alabama has proven to be one of the most prolific offensive teams in the nation this year within a system guided by Alabama Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien. The SEC Champions have scored at least 30 points in 11 of its 13 games this season, including nine games with 40 or more points. In its last outing, the Crimson Tide exploded for 24 points in the second quarter to erase an early 10-0 Georgia lead to overtake the Bulldogs on the way to a resounding 41-24 win at the SEC Football Championship Game in Atlanta.
O’Brien has extensive coaching experience at both the collegiate and NFL level and arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2021 after previously serving as the head coach and general manager of the Houston Texans. O’Brien’s influence and receptiveness to collaboration has been especially helpful to Crimson Tide freshman and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young.
“For OB (Coach O’Brien) to have the coaching legacy he's had, to coach the players and just to have the resume he had, he could have easily came in and said, ‘Just sit down, be quiet, and this is where you're going to throw the ball,’” Young said. “’This is what I'm going to call.’
“But for him to come in and talk to me about how I saw stuff, for us to really have that dialogue, it speaks to him as a coach. And that's something that definitely helps me. Definitely makes it a lot easier for me to be comfortable in the system and for us to have success.”
That same sentiment is shared by other players on the offensive side of the ball, including those in a big-play oriented wide receiver corps.
“It's been great having Coach O'Brien this year,” Alabama WR Slade Bolden said. “I feel like it didn't take long for us to connect as an offense with him. And I feel like it's only improved the chemistry throughout the season. And we all trust O'Brien's play‑calling, and we know that he's going to put us in the best position. And the best thing about Coach OB is he wants success for us and he wants us to do well more than him. So he's going to try to put us in the best situation that he thinks. And we all trust and believe that that's the best as well.”
The 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is Friday, Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. CST on ESPN and ESPN Radio. Kickoff is slated for 2:40 p.m.
This year's Classic is a part of the ESPN bowl lineup for the eighth straight year. Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge are set to the call the action from the booth with Molly McGrath and Laura Rutledge reporting from the sidelines.
ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner for the eighth consecutive year with Sean Kelley and Barrett Jones in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons on the sidelines to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium.