The 2012 college football season opens with an exciting match up this weekend featuring two of the most storied and successful programs in the nation with the number two-ranked and defending BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide of the SEC taking on the 8th ranked Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten meet this Saturday night (8:00 pm EST) from Cowboys Stadium in Irving, TX. These are two of the most storied and successful programs in NCAA history with a combined 25 national titles and 1,709 wins between them. Alabama is led by Nick Saban, a three-time National Championship coach, including 2 of the last 3 with the Tide. Michigan is led by second-year head man Brady Hoke, who led the Wolverines to an 11 win season and a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in his first season in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines return dynamic, dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson (1,176 rushing yards, 2,173 passing yards, 36 combined TDs) to lead an offensive unit that averaged 33.3 points per game (27th in the nation) and ranked 13th nationally in rushing offense with 221.8 yards per game. The offensive line is breaking in two new starters, and will have to come together quickly against the athletic defensive line of Alabama. The Michigan defense was a much improved unit a year ago, ranking 6th in the nation in points allowed with 17.4 per game and 17th in total defense with 322.2 YPG allowed.
Alabama returns quarterback AJ McCarron (2,634 yards passing, 16 TDs, 5 INTs in 2011) to lead their offense, which ranked 20th nationally in scoring with 34.8 PPG and 31st in total offense with 429.6 YPG. The Tide must replace running back Trent Richardson, and junior Eddie Lacy, who ran for 7.1 YPC and 7 TDs i limited duty last season, should be more than up to the task with a veteran offensive line that includes All-American Barrett Jones. The strength of this team will again be Saban’s trademark 3-4 defense, which ranked #1 across the board last season in points allowed, total defense, passing defense and rushing defense.
Michigan vs. Alabama Spread and Betting Odds:
Michigan Wolverines +13.5
@Alabama Crimson Tide -13.5
Over 47 (-110)
Under 47 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv <- $250 Free Bet offer at Bovada
Michigan vs. Alabama Pick:
The last meeting between the two programs was a 35-34 Michigan win in the Orange Bowl on January 1, 2000. Michigan is 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games, and Alabama is 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games overall. The over is 7-1 in Michigan’s last 8 games against SEC teams, and the under is 5-2 in their last 7 games overall. The over is 8-3-1 in Alabama’s last 12 non-conference games.
Michigan will be without the services of suspended running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who ran for over 1,000 yards last season and will have to rely even more on the legs of Robinson in this game. The Wolverines will be limited in the running game outside of Robinson, and the QB will have to propel them to victory almost single-handedly against an athletic SEC defense that has the type of speed that Michigan seldom faces in the Big 10. Alabama can control the ball on offense with an experienced QB and a tough running game that should flourish against Michigan’s relatively undersized defensive front. The total is too risky to play here as neither team is likely to have a huge day offensively, but Alabama has the athletes to make this a one-sided affair and if they take the lead early Robinson will be forced to take to the air, which is not his strong point. Take Alabama to cover in this one as the Tide should take the lead early, and with a superior defense and team speed they are unlikely to relinquish it.
PICK = Alabama -13.5