It’s difficult to narrow down Alabama’s distinct advantages over Cincinnati in their Cotton Bowl Playoff semifinal. Let’s try.

There’s obviously the overriding advantage that comes with being the most dominant program in recent history and perhaps the best program of all time. One could point to a rabid fan base, a strong group of boosters that fund facilities or any number of reasons why Alabama is largely considered the better program. However, let’s not sell the Bearcats short.

Cincinnati made the Playoff thanks to a 13-0 record, which included a double-digit victory at Notre Dame and a clinching win over another ranked opponent, Houston, in the American Athletic Championship Game. The Bearcats have done what they needed to do in order to make it to college football’s final four.

However, they haven’t faced anything close to Alabama. Here are the 3 biggest advantages the Tide have — all 3 of which explain why they are a 13.5-point favorite.

Bryce Young vs. Desmond Ridder

This may seem like an easy selection, but it’s not as clear-cut as it seems. Alabama has Bryce Young, who won the Heisman Trophy, and Cincinnati has Desmond Ridder, a possible first-round pick in April. Ridder also is a senior who should be accustomed to big games. However, this game is different. The entire college football world will be watching. With so much riding on Ridder, it’s possible the spotlight could swallow him whole and he could struggle. Even if that doesn’t happen, Ridder hasn’t been great lately. He has thrown 6 interceptions in the Bearcats’ past 7 games. If Ridder can’t protect the ball, this becomes a strong advantage for Alabama.

Young is known for his patience in the pocket. Ridder, a dual-threat at 6-4, 215 pounds, will likely make more plays on the ground than Young, who likes to keep passing plays alive downfield until the last possible split second. Plus, Young is careful with the ball. He has only 4 interceptions all season.

That interception mark will be put to the test Saturday. Cincinnati has two cornerbacks, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Coby Bryant, who could end up in the first round of the NFL Draft. Gardner might be the best pure cover corner in the country … and Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s best defensive back.

Alabama has suffered its fair share of injuries that have affected the running game and put more pressure on Young. Plus, the Tide will be without John Metchie III, who is Young’s favorite target. Still, the safe bet is to take the Heisman Trophy winner over a quarterback who has a penchant for giving the ball to the other team.

Will Anderson Jr. vs. anyone

Anderson is a force that Cincinnati hasn’t seen to this point. In fact, many of their players may never see a player like Anderson again. Many of their football-playing fathers have never seen a player like Anderson up close.

It would be easy to say that the Bearcats just need to keep the ball away from him. That’s easier said than done. Anderson can line up at defensive end or linebacker so he’s tough to account for. Alabama coach Nick Saban has also had some extra time to continue to develop Anderson, who is probably still steamed about not making the Heisman ceremony last month. Anderson talked openly this week about the Tide not being respected.

Anderson led the country with 31.5 tackles for loss. He tied for the national lead with 15.5 sacks. This is not a guy who needs extra motivation to wreck an opponent’s game plan.

Saban has had some extra time since the regular season began in order to place Anderson in the best positions possible to make game-changing plays. It would be a stunner if Anderson didn’t turn in at least one big play during Saturday’s game. He’s just that good and he’s nearly impossible to locate on every play given his versatility.

Nick Saban vs. Luke Fickell

It’s impossible not to overlook the difference in these coaches’ résumés. Saban has won 7 national championships — 6 at Alabama. Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell has coached in games with national championships on the line but he’s never been the head coach in charge of his team heading into a game like this. Fickell is one of the hottest young coaches in college football. He may well win a championship this year or at a bigger school that could come calling. While that may all happen, it hasn’t yet.

Here’s a stat to ponder: Since losing to Ohio State in the 2014 Playoff semifinal, the Crimson Tide has won its past 5 Playoff semifinal games by an average of 20.2 points. That’s a sign that Saban knows how to prepare his team with some extra time on the practice field. Fickell will have to take chances to win. Saban will choose one of many options he has at his disposal to pull off the expected victory.

Most would certainly take experience over youth in such a big game. However, Fickell has one advantage over Saban. Fickell has nothing to lose. He can run trick plays, try to convert 4th downs, try timely onside kicks and do just about anything else one could imagine.

Will anyone criticize Fickell if that turns out to be the case and he loses the game? They shouldn’t. Fickell is playing with a deck stacked against him. Aside from having less experience, Fickell has less talent. Those two things usually don’t end up well for the underdog. Especially when Saban is on the other sideline.