SEC: Wolverines-Tide-091012

Alabama plays with a purpose

September, 2, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas. -- Let's pretend for a nanosecond that Michigan really was the No. 8 team in the country, and that Denard Robinson really was a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Then what does that say about No. 2 Alabama and the way it plucked the fur out of the Wolverines' season, strand by strand, Saturday evening at Cowboys Stadium? And if you're Western Kentucky, Bama's next opponent, aren't you thinking of calling in sick on Sept. 8?

The Crimson Tide didn't just beat the Wolverines, 41-14, it toyed with them. Embarrassed them. Treated them like an honorary cupcake. You didn't know if it were Michigan or DeVry Institute.

That's what Alabama can do to you. That's what happens when Bama coach Nick Saban has forever to prepare a game plan and a fish net for the previously confounding Robinson. The senior quarterback wasn't invisible, but he was inconsequential.

The Tide played like a team with a chip on its shoulder pads. Better yet, it played like it doesn't want to be a national championship one-and-done.

"We know we can play with anybody," said Bama quarterback AJ McCarron.

If Saturday night's game means anything, the Tide can play with and perhaps better than anybody. I'm not saying Saban should begin practicing how to raise a crystal football over his head, but Bama is more than capable of winning a second consecutive national title.

"Everybody's hungry," said senior linebacker Nico Johnson. "I think we're more hungry than we were last year coming into the season. We just want to go out and create an identity for this team."

Alabama isn't as good as Michigan made them out to be. But just to be clear: the Tide treated U of M like the Wolverines had insulted Bear Bryant and houndstooth. The rout was complete and indisputable.

For Gene Wojciechowski's full column, click here.

Alabama defense answers the call

September, 2, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Denard Robinson went up to the biggest kid in the schoolyard and attempted to throw a haymaker.

He tried to make a statement against the Alabama defense and failed.

Michigan's confounding superstar went toe-to-toe with Dee Milliner and the Crimson Tide defense and ended up on his backside. He went after their top cornerback early and often and ended up handing over his lunch money over one nickel at a time.
Milliner batted down pass after pass that came in his direction and intercepted another of Robinson's misguided attempts.

Before Robinson finally wised up and threw the ball to the other side of the field late in the second quarter -- completing a 71-yard bomb, coincidentally -- the game was already in hand with Alabama ahead more than three touchdowns.

"I don't know, I guess they felt the need to attack me today," Milliner said after the game. "But I'm glad they did it so I can make the plays."

For Alex Scarborough's full TideNation post, click here.

The bright lights and the big stage certainly didn't affect the focus of the defending champs, as No. 2 Alabama routed No. 8 Michigan 41-14 on Saturday inside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Alabama's defense might be younger, but it didn't flinch against Michigan's flashy spread offense. The Tide's defense smothered the Wolverines, holding them to 268 total yards, forcing Michigan to go 3-of-12 on third downs and creating three turnovers.

Alabama's offense was equally impressive. The Tide showed tremendous balance, as quarterback AJ McCarron passed for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while true freshman running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 111 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.

It was over when: This one got away from Michigan early, but you could really feel this one was officially out of hand after Alabama running back Eddie Lacy bullied his way into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 21-0 with 1:24 left in the first quarter.

Game ball goes to: Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart called a near-perfect game against an offense many thought would give the Tide issues. Smart and his players were more than prepared against Denard Robinson and that spread. Robinson was all over the place with some of his early passes, and was pressured and contained by Alabama's front seven for most of the night, basically taking him out of the game.

Stat of the game: Michigan didn't give up more than 40 points in any game last season. The Wolverines surrendered 41 points Saturday night and gave up 31 by halftime.

Unsung hero: There was a lot of talk about what Alabama's defense would do, especially the secondary. That put a lot on the shoulders of senior cornerback Dee Milliner. But he made quite the statement Saturday. He showed lockdown ability, knocked passes away and came away with his own interception. He's certainly the leader of this group.

What it means for Alabama: People wondered what the defending champs had in the tank with the pieces they lost on defense, and Alabama delivered a monstrous punch. It was only one game and SEC play hasn't started, but Alabama yet again looks very strong on both sides of the ball. That's a scary thought for the rest of the country ... and the SEC.

What it means for Michigan: This wasn't Robinson's best game, and there were a few plays in the first half that should have been made. But the Wolverines likely won't play a defense as dominating as Alabama's from here on out. The other good news is that suspended Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark will return. This team can still make a run in the Big Ten.

Video: Last minute UM-Bama analysis

September, 1, 2012

Gene Wojciechowski, Michael Rothstein, and Alex Scarborough give you the latest information on Michigan and Alabama from inside Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.