Alabama is favored to defeat Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl on Friday. But the Crimson Tide will need to ensure that they don’t cede control of the game and allow the upset-minded Bearcats to gather confidence.

One person in particular who will be watching the game closely is former NFL All-Pro linebacker Connor Barwin. Before a 10-year spell in the league, Barwin was a former All-Big East 1st team performer at Cincinnati, where he played under current LSU head coach Brian Kelly in his final 3 seasons.

Barwin appeared on ESPNU Radio on Wednesday morning with Dusty Dvoracek and Danny Kanell to discuss the matchup, as well as how the Bearcats could leave North Texas with a victory and claim a trip to the national championship game in Indianapolis on Jan. 10.

“The defensive line, to me, has to show up big in the game, and they’ve got to get some turnovers on defense,” he said. “I think that’s one way they make this game really competitive. And then on offense, (quarterback) Desmond Ridder’s going to have to make some big plays with his arm and with his feet.

“[They] obviously can’t turn the ball over, but they’re going to have to make some big plays with the quarterback, and then on defense they’re just going to have to find a way to get the ball away from Alabama.”