Round four in the history between Michigan and Alabama, the Crimson Tide took control early and rolled over the Wolverines, 41-14. Instead of an opponent that Michigan could pay to come to the Big House to play, they decided to go to the NFL’s biggest stage. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas played host to the most anticipated matchup in the first week of the season.
Michigan was ranked eighth in the country while the defending National Champions were ranked second, behind USC. The Crimson Tide were a 12.5 point favorite over the Wolverines and many expected a blowout of this game. That’s exactly what we saw with three touchdowns in the first quarter alone for junior quarterback AJ McCarron and the Crimson Tide offense.
Even though Alabama graduated their top running back in Trent Richardson to the NFL and a lot of their wide receiving core, they just retooled and came back even stronger. McCarron completed 11 of 21 passes and threw two touchdowns for 199 yards to lead the Alabama offense. On the other end, senior quarterback Denard Robinson didn’t look like the Denard of last year. He was 11 of 26 passes, one touchdown for 200 yards and two interceptions.
He was also knocked around a bit; on one interception tackling the interceptor, he went down hard, falling on his back reaching for a first down later in the game. Denard was very disappointed in his performance as well, “We didn’t play Michigan football today. I didn’t play like a Michigan QB.”
Without top running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint, who was suspended for the game, along with defensive end Frank Clark for their off-the-field issues in the offseason, the running game looked bleak. Senior Vincent Smith led the way with 13 carries for 32 yards. Sophomore tailback, Thomas Rawls had a decent game with six carries for nine yards.
On the other side of the field, Alabama’s running game looked like it came from the NFL. They spread the ball around to nearly every tailback, with freshman T.J. Yeldon leading the way. He scored his first career touchdown along with 11 carries for 111 yards. Junior Jalston Fowler had eight carries for 35 yards as well as a touchdown. Alabama’s other two touchdowns came from pass plays. Sophomore Deandrew White had just one catch, but it proved to be noteworthy as it was a touchdown, 51-yards. Senior Michael Williams caught the other touchdown, just a two yard grab.
Surprisingly, the first drive of the game for Alabama, they were held to a three and out. After that, their next three drives were touchdowns. Any hope that Michigan had to win pretty much left the building before the end of the first quarter. Regardless, Michigan fought its way back, even though they were down 31-0 in the second quarter.
The Crimson Tide’s first touchdown was the Williams’ two-yard reception. Then followed the White 51-yard reception, and three minutes later, a Lacy 9-yard run.
In what seemed like a moral victory, the Wolverines defense held the Crimson Tide to a field goal, down 24-0 early on in the second quarter. Junior linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass from Robinson and returned in 16-yards to go up 31-0 with about four minutes left in the first half.
Luckily, the Wolverines never gave up. Robinson led the way and ran six-yards into the endzone to put the Wolverines on the board. The end of the first half, the Crimson Tide led 31-7. A whole quarter almost went by without any points being scored but with a few minutes left in the third quarter, Alabama kicked a field goal to extend its lead, 34-7. It looked like a lost cause, and at that point, it probably was.
That didn’t stop the Wolverine offense from scoring one more touchdown. Newly converted quarterback to wide receiver Devin Gardner scored his first career touchdown on his first career catch, a 44-yard reception to score the final points of the game for the Wolverines. A one-yard touchdown run by Yeldon in the fourth quarter all but sealed the deal for the Crimson Tide.
It was a hard fought game, but considering Alabama is the defending National Champions, it would have been difficult to defeat the Crimson Tide. The Wolverines still have the same goal this year, and that is to win the B1G Ten Championship and a National Championship. They come home next week to play Air Force at the Big House at 3:30pm on ABC. Go Blue!
To read the original article that appeared online only for The Michigan Journal, on Sunday, September 1, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org