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Alabama vs. Cincinnati live stream, watch online, channel, Cotton Bowl playoff game prediction, odds, spread

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New Year’s Eve this year is headlined by the College Football Playoff, and it all begins on Friday with No. 1 Alabama taking on No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide are aiming to repeat as national champions, while the Bearcats will make history on Friday as the first Group of Five team to take the field in a CFP game. 

Alabama muscled its way to the top of the final CFP Rankings by crushing Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game behind a sensational day from Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. On the other side, Cincinnati broke into the field after finishing a second consecutive undefeated regular season and winning the American. The Bearcats needed a little help from Big 12 champion Baylor to overcome two SEC teams making the field but now have a Group of Five team’s first opportunity to win a playoff game. 

Alabama and Cincinnati have played five times with the Tide winning all five matchups. However, none of the matchups have come since 1990. Bearcats coach Luke Fickell is 48-14 in five seasons with eight of the losses coming during a transitional first year. Cincinnati has never won a national championship. 

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Making a case for … No. 1 Alabama | No. 2 Michigan | No. 3 Georgia | No. 4 Cincinnati

How to watch Cotton Bowl live

Game: Cotton Bowl
Date
: Friday, Dec. 31 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Alabama vs. Cincinnati: Need to know

Making history: Heading into the 2021 season, no Group of Five team had ever finished higher than No. 7 in the final rankings. After completing a second consecutive undefeated regular season, Cincinnati finally broke through the glass ceiling to become the first non-Power Five team in the field. The Bearcats’ reward for making history? A showdown with the greatest dynasty in the history of college football. Cincinnati has never won a national championship, while Nick Saban has won three in the playoff era alone. 

Sauce vs. Speed: Perhaps the best matchup of the entire playoff will take place on the outside. Alabama receiver Jameson Williams nearly beat Georgia singlehandedly in the SEC title game, but he faces his toughest test yet. Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant won the Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in America — and projected first-round NFL Draft pick Ahmad Gardner is even better. Especially with WR John Metchie out, Williams vs. the corners will define whether Alabama can pull away. 

Heisman Bryce: For the fourth time since 2009, an Alabama player went home with the Heisman Trophy. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is the first Bama signal-caller to win the sport’s ultimate prize after throwing for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns in his first year as a starter. Young was magnificent against Georgia’s top-ranked defense, throwing for 421 yards and three touchdowns while adding 40 rushing yards and a score. Cincinnati will need to fight to get pressure against Young without committing extra defenders; Young’s completion percentage drops from 75.5% in a clean pocket to 47.8% when the pass rush gets home. 

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NFL talent: While Cincinnati is a Group of Five team, there’s legitimate NFL talent at every level. The Bearcats have two players ranked in the top 51 players of the CBS Sports NFL Draft prospect rankings — Gardner at No. 17 and defensive lineman Myjai Sanders at No. 51 — the same number as Alabama and Michigan. Bryant also projects as a third-round pick, while quarterback Desmond Ridder, running back Jerome Ford and several others could play their way into Day 2 picks with strong performances. Cincinnati will not be intimidated by pure talent. 

Cotton Bowl prediction, picks

It’s easy to tell why the line is two touchdowns — it’s Bama vs. Cincinnati, for goodness sake. However, this matchup is much closer than the brand names would say. The Tide have real advantages on the outside and an NFL-caliber quarterback on offense to deal with the havoc. Regardless, expect the game to finish close given the Bearcats have plenty of NFL players on their side of the ball, including Ridder and both starting cornerbacks. Prediction: Cincinnati (+13.5)

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.



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2022 WWE Clash at the Castle card, matches, rumors, predictions, match card, date, start time, location

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After 30 years, WWE is finally bringing a major stadium event back to the United Kingdom. Clash at the Castle goes down on Sept. 3 from Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

In the main event, undisputed WWE champion Roman Reigns will put his titles on the line in front of the U.K.’s own Drew McIntyre. It’s an epic clash that puts Reigns’ more than 700-day title reign at high risk of coming to an end. The SmackDown women’s title is also set to be defended as Liv Morgan will take on a fresh challenger in Shayna Baszler.

The build to the show has started but the full card is far from finalized. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what we know — and what we expect — at WWE Clash at the Castle.  

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WWE Clash at the Castle matches

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Drew McIntyre: Ahead of SummerSlam, McIntyre defeated Sheamus to become No. 1 contender to the undisputed title. Reigns then defeated Brock Lesnar in a wild Last Man Standing match at SummerSlam to retain his titles, setting up the match with McIntyre. McIntyre will clearly have the hometown crowd behind him but ending the title run of Reigns has proven near impossible.

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Liv Morgan (c) vs. Shayna Baszler: Morgan successfully — and controversially — defended her title by pinning Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam. Of course, Morgan was tapping out to an armbar, which the referee didn’t see as he counted Rousey’s shoulders down. Now, Morgan will try to make a more emphatic statement against another former MMA star in Baszler, who earned her title shot by winning a gauntlet match against six other women on SmackDown.

Bianca Belair, Asuka & Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley, Iyo Sky & Dakota Kai: After Belair defeated Becky Lynch at SummerSlam to retain the Raw women’s title, things got wild. First, Bayley returned from a lengthy injury layoff. Then, Sky and Kai made their way to the ring to join her. The new group immediately changed the landscape of the division and they set their sights on Belair and Lynch. Unfortunately, Lynch suffered a legitimate shoulder injury that put her on the sidelines, leaving it to Asuka and Bliss to join up with the champ to take on Bayley’s crew.

Seth Rollins vs. Riddle: This match was supposed to take place at SummerSlam but was pulled at the last minute with Rollins taking out Riddle with a series of stomps. Riddle again suffered the brunt of Rollins’ stomps at SummerSlam when he showed up and challenged Rollins to fight him. On Raw, Riddle announced he was now medically cleared and the two brawled again. After that, the challenge was laid down to finally face off at the upcoming pay-per-view.

Intercontinental Championship — Gunther (c) vs. Sheamus: A new challenger was required after Gunther quelled the advances of Shinsuke Nakamura. Sheamus won a hotly contested “Fatal Five-Way” match on the Aug. 19 edition of SmackDown to crown a new challenger. Sheamus defeated Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, Ricochet and Sami Zayn to be named No. 1 contender for the intercontinental title.

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WWE Clash at the Castle predictions

The Miz vs. AJ Styles: Miz and Styles seem to keep falling into each other’s orbit. After several confrontations, the two men met in a no disqualification match on Raw, which Styles won. It seems unlikely the entire situation would end with a simple television match. Instead, look for the two to battle in Wales.

Finn Balor vs. Edge: Balor, Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley violently turned on Edge, kicking him out of The Judgement Day in brutal fashion. Edge has since made his return, attacking Judgement Day multiple times. It only makes sense for Balor and Edge to finally meet in an actual match.



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White Sox’s Tony La Russa issues another intentional walk on two-strike count in loss vs. Guardians

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Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa made one of the weirdest strategic decisions of the season in June, when he issued an intentional walk to a batter who his pitcher had already staked out a 1-2 count against. The call backfired, as the next batter unloaded a home run that put the White Sox in a hole from which they could not recover. La Russa defended his decision afterward, and on Friday night he doubled-down, in a sense, by doing the same thing against the Cleveland Guardians as part of a 5-2 loss (box score).

Here’s how it went down:

The White Sox led the Guardians 2-1 entering the seventh inning. Cleveland would subsequently score a pair of runs with two outs in the frame to take a 3-2 lead before La Russa inserted left-handed reliever Jake Diekman. Diekman would then walk two consecutive batters before giving up a single to Andrés Giménez to plate two more runs, making it 5-2 with runners on first and second. At that point, the Guardians rookie outfielder Oscar Gonzalez had a chance to blow the game open.

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Diekman would get ahead of Gonzalez 1-2 before the Guardians’ baserunners succeeded on a double-steal attempt. With first base open and two outs, La Russa called for the intentional walk. It should be noted that Gonzalez, though right-handed, has performed worse against lefty pitchers this season, and that he’s struck out in nearly 40 percent of the plate appearances that have reached two strikes.

Nevertheless, La Russa evidently wanted to force Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s hand with the next spot in the order. Lefty-swinging rookie Nolan Jones was due up, but Francona subbed him out for righty Owen Miller. La Russa then strolled to the mound to replace Diekman with right-hander Jimmy Lambert, who subsequently induced an inning-ending flyout on the second pitch of the at-bat.

The results will spare La Russa from the intensity of criticism that he received in June, but that doesn’t make it a sound process. We know from various studies conducted by smart analysts that microsplits, including those of the platoon and count variety, require regression toward the mean to have any actual predictive value. Maybe La Russa had those numbers on hand from the White Sox’s analytical department, but we’re going to guess that he made his call based on Gonzalez’s two-strike average (.265) and Miller’s average against righties (.262 this year or .242 career). 

After all, if intentionally walking batters who are stuck in two-strike counts was a sound tactical decision based on the numbers, the odds are that the Los Angeles Dodgers or … well, the Guardians would be the ones doing it; not La Russa. 

It may have not factored into the final score on Friday, but the White Sox can’t be thrilled that their manager seems committed to making the same mistake twice.

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Sonya Deville & Natalya face Toxic Attraction in WWE's Tag Team Title Tournament | WWE on FOX

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Natalya and Sonya Deville took on former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne from Toxic Attraction on Friday Night SmackDown.



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