Michigan Wolverines (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 1st, 2012. 8:00PM Eastern
Where: Cowboys Stadium Arlington, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Alabama Crimson Tide -12/Michigan Wolverines +12
Over/Under Total: OFF
Last year Coach Nick Saban led the Alabama Crimson Tide
to their 2nd National Championship in the past 3 years. Just as they did
back in 2009, Alabama got things done with a strong running game backed
by an outstanding defensive group. In fact, the 2011 Alabama defense was
arguably the best defensive group in college football history. Not only
did they deliver the first shutout in the BCS era, but Alabama’s defense
gave up just 183 yards per game for the entire year. Simply remarkable!
This season Alabama enters 2012 sporting the number 2 ranking in America
as they look to create a modern day dynasty. The Crimson Tide will kick
off the season inside Cowboys Stadium when they meet another historical
power from the Big Ten in the Michigan Wolverines.
The folks from Ann Arbor may not have won a National Title in 2011, but they have plenty to be excited about as they enter 2012. After several mediocre seasons under Rich Rodriguez, new Coach Brady Hoke led the Wolverines to an 11-2 breakout season capped off by a 23-20 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Now Michigan fans have really high hopes that something special is in store for 2012. One benefactor to that notion is that Michigan has one of the most exciting players in college football in QB Denard Robinson. Robinson has terrorized Big Ten defenses over the past two years. In 2011, Robinson threw for more than 2,000 yards with 20 touchdowns and then rushed for another 1,176 yards with an additional 16 touchdowns. Robinson’s quick speed and agility make him an ultimate threat in the open field and it will be interesting to see if he can find room to run against an extremely talented Alabama defense.
Speaking of that Alabama defense, the Crimson Tide lost 4 players that earned All-America honors from that tenacious 2011 group. This year the Crimson Tide will look to some unknown names to fill those gaps. However, you can expect those unknown names to be extremely talented guys. Alabama has recruited better than any team in the nation over the last several seasons. Therefore don’t expect this to be a ‘rebuilding’ type season, but rather a ‘reloading’ one. Still Alabama will have to keep some of their defensive focus on Denard Robinson and Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. Just like Robinson, Toussaint also put up a ton of yards on the ground in 2011. In fact, Toussaint averaged more yards per carry (5.6) than Robinson. Last year both ground threats led a Michigan rushing offense that averaged 213 yards per game. It will be extremely important that Michigan establishes some type of running game when they meet Alabama inside Cowboys Stadium. Alabama is not an extreme offensive threat but Michigan must not allow the Alabama defense to control the tempo and field position battles to the game.
On the other side of the ball, as stated before Alabama is not the most explosive team on offense but they are extremely powerful especially up front on the offensive line. Over the past few years, Alabama has been blessed with talented running backs like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson who exceled behind that Alabama offensive line. This year junior running back Eddie Lacy looks to have similar success. Lacy posted 674 rushing yards in 2011 behind Trent Richardson but will get the bulk of the carries in 2012. Coach Nick Saban loves to pound the football between the tackles and I would expect that Lacy will be the workhorse for the offense this season.
Behind center, quarterback A.J McCarron had an impressive sophomore campaign. A lot of people did not know what to expect from McCarron entering 2011, but he responded by throwing for 2,634 yards with 16 scores and 5 picks. McCarron completed 67% passing and as you can tell by the numbers he did a great job of securing the football. The Alabama offense did not have to rely on much of a passing game last season and it is hard to predict how much will change in 2012. One concern that Coach Saban will have on offense is finding a reliable threat in the receiving core where he will look for some young talent to step up and provide a spark to the passing attack.
Lining up against the powerful Alabama offense will be a Michigan defense that put up some solid numbers in 2011. The Wolverines defense ranked 17th overall by holding opponents to 322 yards per game. In 2012, the Wolverines pass defense should be very strong as they return their entire back 7. The only concerns will be among the defensive front where the Wolverines lost three starters from 2011. The defensive front will be a big concern for the defense when they line up against power rushing teams like Alabama and others from the Big Ten.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Michigan could contend in this game but I think the losses along the defensive line will be too severe to ignore against that Alabama offensive line. I expect Alabama to win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball and make a nice statement victory to open the season. Take Alabama -12
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