Alabama opens season with 41-14 win over Michigan
The Alabama Crimson Tide opened its 2012 season the same way it ended 2011 — with a win. The Tide knocked off the Michigan Wolverines 41-14 in front 90,413 fans at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday.
A hard-hitting, hungry Alabama team took the field in Arlington and proved to be too much for Michigan to handle. The Tide methodically used a balanced approach, one that has become the norm during head coach Nick Saban’s time as the Alabama head coach.
Alabama got on the board with 6:56 remaining in the first quarter on a two-yard pass to senior tight end Michael Williams. Quarterback AJ McCarron lofted a perfect ball over the top of the defense to Williams running a faded route into the corner of the end zone. From there, the rout was on.
After the Tide defense forced a Michigan punt, McCarron found DeAndrew White streaking down the sideline for the second touchdown of the game. White utilized a perfect double move to free himself from his defender and trot into the endzone for the 51-yard score.
Following a Dee Milliner interception, the Tide had the football 17 yards away from the endzone. With 1:24 remaining in the first quarter, junior running back Eddie Lacy bounded off of tacklers and crossed the goal line for the score, and the Tide took a 21-0 advantage into the second quarter.
The Tide tacked on another three points on a Jeremy Shelley field goal early in the second quarter to push the lead to 24-0. After a failed drive by both teams, Alabama’s Cody Mandell pinned the Wolverines back inside its own two-yard line to begin another drive. Michigan desperately needed to get something going on offense.
Backed up into his own endzone, Denard Robinson took the snap and rifled the ball across the middle of the field. He was looking for Roy Roundtree, but he was nowhere to be found. Intead, Alabama’s CJ Mosley snagged the ball out of the air and trotted back 16 yards into the endzone for the score.
Brady Hoke’s Michigan squad was downtrodden and defeated. A 31-point deficit before halftime had the Michigan faithful inside Cowboys Stadium struggling to find reasons to cheer. Just minutes after the Tide’s touchdown with a little over four minutes remaining in the first half, Robinson connected with receiver Jeremy Gallon on a 71-yard reception to set Michigan up inside the Alabama one-yard line.
A false start penalty moved the offense back five yards, but Denard Robinson used a designed run play, a rarity on Saturday night, to cross the goal line for the Wolverine’s first score of the game. The Tide took a 31-7 lead into halftime, and it wouldn’t get much better for Michigan.
“We didn’t play Michigan football,” Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said. “That is something that bothers our team, bothers out coaches.”
The Crimson Tide added a 51-yard field goal from Cade Foster near the end of the third quarter to push the lead to 34-7. With mere seconds remaining in the third quarter, Robinson found receiver Devin Gardner through the air and he went into the end zone from 44 yards out for the score.
Alabama’s final score of the night came with 5:32 remaining in the game. The Michigan defense was largely worn down and dragging, and a few explosive runs by Jalston Fowler had the Tide threatening inside the Wolverines’ one-yard line. Freshman running back T.J. Yeldon was inserted into the game and scored for the first time — likely the first of many — in his college career.
All in all, the Tide pounded the Wolverines on the ground, running the ball 42 times and tallying 232 yards. Starting running back Eddie Lacy only played in spot minutes, which leads credence to the fact that he is still dealing with a few minor injuries. Given the Tide’s stable of capable running backs, though, it didn’t matter.
Freshman T.J. Yeldon became the first Alabama running back to reach the 100-yard mark in his debut. The Daphne native gained 111 yards on the ground and averaging a whopping 10.1 yards per carry.
“I thought our offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and we ran the ball effectively,” head coach Nick Saban said. In addition to its success on the ground, the Tide managed to pass for 199 yards on the evening. McCarron made the most of his opportunities to throw the ball, often given ample amounts of time to find an open target.
“I thought AJ did a good job of getting us in the right place and also making a few effective throws,” Saban said.
On a night that set over 40 records for the Cowboys Classic, only one record mattered to the team wearing crimson — 1-0. Alabama has a lot to look forward to, a lot to prepare for the rest of the way, but the Tide opened its title defense season the same way it closed 2011 — with an uproarious statement to the rest of the college football world.
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