Cincinnati, meanwhile, was trying to justify that it belonged to the same domain.
The Bearcats (13-1) also carried the banner of schools outside the so-called Power 5 conferences – the Southeast, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Pacific-12 – and the independent Notre Dame. No school outside of this privileged class, where most millions of varsity sports circulate, had reached the playoffs, which were instituted for the 2014 season. Central Florida has been shut out twice despite regular seasons. consecutive undefeated.
If the Bearcats left the field after having acquitted themselves well, they also took some regrets: settling for an early field goal when Ridder unleashed a pass over Alec Pierce’s header in the end zone ; not being able to jump on a dropped punt deep in Alabama territory and do little with safety Bryan Cook’s intercept near midfielder.
Most of the time, however, Cincinnati will regret not being able to get Alabama out of the field on decisive lows. The Crimson Tide converted five of nine games on the third and fourth downs during the first half, and came off a third and 16 hole at the end of the third period when Young joined Jameson Williams for 20 yards. above the middle.
As much as the teams have spent the past month preparing for each other, they have also been concerned about avoiding the latest wave of coronavirus cases, which had prompted seven teams to withdraw from bowl games. Two assistant coaches from Alabama, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone, had to isolate themselves for more than a week before joining the team this week. The universities did not say any players tested positive before the game.
While teams were vigilant, restricting media access to video calls among other measures, nothing else on the environment foreshadowed a pandemic.
Some bars and restaurants across the country require customers to show proof of vaccination, but it was difficult to find it in local entertainment districts which even required masks to enter. The same goes for the AT&T Stadium, where fans wearing masks were only a small fraction of the crowd of 76,313 and a sign outside the press box read: “Masks are encouraged. “
“I don’t think that’s a concern for people here,” said Christy Schmidt, who, along with her husband, Mark, had left Cincinnati for the game. Whenever they stopped to eat or gas the nearly 950 miles, they ran into other Bearcats fans, who outnumbered Alabama fans by far on Friday. (Their fans howled when former Cincinnati Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs tight end, appeared on the stadium video screen alongside quarterback Patrick Mahomes; wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back. corner Trevon Diggs, former Alabama stars now with the Dallas Cowboys, have been watching from on the sidelines of the tide.)