CINCINNATI — The countdown is on for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats as the team prepares to face the University of Alabama in the Cotton Bowl Friday.
It’s a historic moment for the team. The team is the first “Group of Five” team to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff since it was started in 2014.
UC fans like Jeffrey Wolf are gearing up to make the trip to North Texas.
“It's really, like I said, winning a lottery ticket to get this far,” said Wolf, who graduated UC in the Class of 1988. “I never would have dreamt that years ago I’d see them where they are now.”
“We are so excited,” said UC fan Sandy Mangan. “The whole city is involved in it at this point.”
Mangan and her husband are heading to the Cotton Bowl this week, too, but they never attended UC.
“Neither of our schools had a good sports team, so we just kind of adopted UC,” she said.
For UC fans living in Texas, the energy of the game hits close to home.
“With the Bearcats, particularly this season, and the headlines they've made and all you know, being the first Group of Five team, it's been interesting because it's got people talking,” Aaron DeRan said.
DeRan graduated with the Class of 2004 and now lives outside of Dallas. He’s headed to the game and meeting up with fellow Bearcat Kevin Coyne. Coyne now lives in Austin.
“I've been wearing UC stuff like almost every day when I'm not at work and people will say something to me,” Coyne said. “I feel pride. It's pretty nice, too, because a lot of people that I know, they're definitely in there supporting us.”
UC is the underdog in the game against Alabama. It doesn’t seem to matter to most UC fans.
“Alabama is the New York Yankees of college football,” DeRan said. “If you're not an Alabama fan, there's no reason you shouldn't be a Bearcat fan for this game.”