One of the big storylines when it comes to Cincinnati’s matchup with Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals will be Jordan Ford.

The Bearcats’ star running back began his career with the Crimson Tide before transferring to Cincinnati 2 years ago.

Ford made an immediate impact for the Bearcats, as he rushed for 483 yards and 8 touchdowns a year ago.

This season, however, he emerged as one of the best backs in the country.

The 5-11, 220-pounder from Tampa, Florida, carried the ball 200 times for 1,242 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, while adding 18 receptions for 209 yards and a score.

On a Zoom call Sunday night, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell was asked about Ford ahead of the Cotton Bowl matchup with Alabama.

Fickell praised Ford for embracing his role in his first year in the program and added “that was probably a difficult thing for him walking in the door. I think it was enlightening for him to have to struggle that first year here not being able to play on the field but I think it really helped him in the long run.”

Fickell was also asked during the call about being the first Group of 5 program to earn a CFP bid, but the 48-year-old coach downplayed the accomplishment.

“We don’t want to feel like we’re carrying some flag for the non-big schools, so to speak,” Fickell said. “We just want to be us.”

As for the Crimson Tide, Fickell was on Ohio State’s staff when the Buckeyes beat Alabama in the 2014 playoff semifinals.

Of that experience Fickell said he learned a lot about the Alabama program, and that the one thing you can count on year after year is that “There are no weaknesses.”

The Cotton Bowl matchup between the Bearcats and Crimson Tide is set for New Years Eve and will be televised by ESPN at 3:30 p.m. EST.