The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide is set to take on the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in the College Football Playoff Semifinal. The Bearcats enter the game carrying the banner for the small schools as they are the first non-Power 5 university to make the College Football Playoffs.

Former Alabama running back Jerome Ford transferred to Cincinnati in 2020 and has worked his way into becoming the Bearcats lead running back during its undefeated 2021 season. Ford played for two seasons at Alabama and even started against Duke to open the 2019 season.

"We thought Jerome [Ford] was an outstanding player when he was with us. He had some success with us, and I think he's done a really, really good job of continuing to develop as a player. He's got great speed. He's physical. He makes people miss. He can run with power, and he's had a fantastic year," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

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In Ford's only Alabama start against the Duke Blue Devils he took 10 carries for 64 yards and a score. He received the start in place of Najee Harris and Brian Robinson who were serving short punishments.

After finding Cincinnati in the transfer portal and playing a complementary role to Gerrid Doaks in 2020, he has broken out as the Bearcats top back in 2021.

Ford has taken 200 carries for 1,238 yards and found pay-dirt 19 times this season. Ford has scored in 11 of Cincinnati's 12 games this year, only the Notre Dame Fighting Irish kept the former Tide transfer out of the endzone. He's even displayed some receiving ability, hauling in 18 passes for 209 yards and a score.

The Bearcat back expressed gratitude for his time playing at Alabama but used the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Media Availability session to convey his commitment to the Cincinnati program.

"But I am a Bearcat. And I would kind of appreciate it if people stop calling me "the" Alabama transfer. I'm a Cincinnati Bearcat. But like I said, I'm thankful for everything Coach Saban did for me and the opportunity to play at Alabama around all the great coaches and other great players," said Ford.

The Crimson Tide comes into the semifinal matchup allowing just 82.8 yards per game the fourth fewest nationally. The defense has improved throughout the season but will be in for as the Bearcats average 180 yards per game.

The 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl will be underway on Friday, Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. CT. The game can be viewed on ESPN and heard locally on Tide 100.9 FM.

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