Denard Robinson was the player with all the hype coming into the game, but as for me personally, I was looking forward to TJ Yeldon, our stud true freshman running back that was going to see the field in his first game ever as a member of the Crimson Tide.
The young Mr. Timothy Yeldon did not let me or anyone else down that night, as he ran for a total of 111 yards on only 11 carries, with his longest run for 40 yards and scored a TD. He was the star of the game, in the first opportunity he ever got to show us what to expect from him. He earned SEC Freshman Of The Week honors in a landslide. He had been a guy that enrolled at Bama in January of '12 and was the offensive MVP of the A-Day game in April. So it wasn't like this kinda performance was unexpected.
For the entire summer, Bama WR Kevin Norwood, hero of the BCS Championship game against LSU, had a picture of Cowboys Stadium, where the game was to be played, on his wall. He was really looking forward to this game.
All American and soon to be 1st Rd NFL Draft Pick Chance Warmack grew up in Detroit and was a Michigan fan as a child before moving to Atlanta, so this game meant alot to him as well.
Alabama RB Dee Hart was a guy who had been committed to Michigan in the past before switching to Alabama, so no doubt he had a few friends on the team and was excited to play them.
The last time Alabama and Michigan had played each other was in the 2000 Orange Bowl, following the 1999 inexplicable SEC Championship season accidentally accomplished by head coach Mike Dubose. Shaun Alexander had an awesome game that night and it was a classic, but Tom Brady led the Wolverines to a victory. I had heard about that game for YEARS from my friend leading up to this game.
Michigan was coached by second year head coach Brady Hoke, who I really really like and have a TON of respect for. He is the type of coach that a program like Michigan deserves. A hard nosed bastard who isn't gonna take any crap from anyone and won't tolerate soft football players and weak defensive play, which was the calling card of Rich Rodriguez's Michigan teams of the past 3 seasons. We still owe Rita Rodriguez a couple thousand beers for hating Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama as a whole, and talking Rich out of taking the Bama job in December of 2006 after Mike Shula was fired.
Hoke WILL have Michigan back to a perennial powerhouse and he will have them competing with Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten each year for a long time. Or until Meyer loses to Saban in a BCS game eventually and quits again, at which point Hoke will probably own the conference. That's what I predict. I feel sorry for Urban's kids. But that is another post for another day that will probably not even happen on this blog.
But anyway, this was not the day for Coach Hoke. Alabama, in Nick Saban's 6th year, in a SEASON OPENER was not a team that a 2nd year coach of any program could've been adequately prepared to face or have enough talent to compete with.
Michigan's starting RB Fitzgerald Touissant was suspended for the game, following a DUI, but his presence wouldn't have mattered anyway. The Wolverines starting DT, and their best lineman, Frank Clark, was suspended for the game also because of an arrest for Home Invasion months prior. These guys sound like they should transfer to Auburn. They'd be right at home in Lee County. Of course, these circumstances were easy excuses for lazy and uneducated Bama haters to use for the impending beatdown that wouldn't have been stopped if Desmond Howard, Braylon Edwards, Tom Brady, Charles Woodson, and Lamarr Woodley had still been wearing Maize and Blue.
For a simple comparison, I pointed out the curb stomping that Alabama put on Michigan State in January of 2011. That same Michigan St team beat Michigan 28-14 that following season, in 2011. They also COMPLETELY shut Robinson down. Just like Bama shut down LSU QB Jordan Jefferson in January of 2012. I predicted a similar outcome to the Capital One Bowl, where Bama annihilated the Spartans 49-7, a score that could've been much worse.
My official prediction, as you can see HERE was 41-17. The actual score, as it turned out: 41-14. It's been pretty hard for me to so clearly NAIL a game prediction as I did this one, but I just knew what was coming, no matter what the naysayers and the ESPN talking heads would've wanted you to believe in hyping this game as a classic matchup between two classic programs. It was a matchup of 2 of College Football's Top 5 All Time prestigious programs, but the talent on the field was such that Bama could've been playing Southern Miss and it would've looked the same.
Michigan won the toss and elected to defer because they knew that Bama wouldn't do anything on the opening offensive drive. They never do, for some reason. I guess it takes a handful of plays for Saban and/or the players to get a hold of things and know what to do. I don't know.
Michigan kicker Matt Wile kicked a touchback and Bama started on the Michigan 25. The first play of the game was a handoff to Eddie Lacy that was stuffed for only a 1 yard gain. AJ then missed on 2 straight passes and Bama had to punt. 3 and out. Hell, it looked like Bama might have a little trouble. But this was the way things went all year long for Bama. They rarely seemed to have it together on their first offensive possession, punting most of the time
Cody Mandell punted the ball 52 yards and Michigan's Jeremy Gallon made a fair catch. Michigan actually got a 1st down on a 3 yard run from Vincent Smith, which followed a 9 yard pass to Smith. But then, they were penalized 15 yards, Robinson threw an incompletion to wideout Roy Roundtree and they had to punt on their first possession as well.
Alabama got it going for good on their second drive, with Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon gashing to Michigan D for several big runs and McCarron hitting a couple nice passes to his best friend Kenny Bell, before hitting a simple 2 yard pass to tight end Michael Williams, who would become a favorite redzone short yardage TD guaranteeing target of AJ's.
TJ Yeldon's first play in Crimson and White was a 14 yard run where he looked like Adrian Peterson, Pt. II. It was a very nice sign of things to come for the talented freshman. The following video is all the highlights of Yeldon's plays from the entire game. It's fun to watch.
That first TD drive went 9 plays for 62 yards, ending in an easy extra point by Senior kicker Jeremy Shelley. Normally I wouldn't even point out a kicker making an extra point, cause that's just expected, but we all know about our kicking woes in 2011 and I also wanted to take my first opportunity to brag about Jeremy Shelley and say how much I'll miss him. He was the single solitary kicker in all of College Football to not miss a single extra point or field goal the entire 2012 season. And he wasn't even nominated for the Groza Award, which goes to the nation's top kicker. SMH.
6:56 left in the 1st.
Alabama, 7. Michigan, 0.
Michigan returned the ensuing kickoff for 25 yards but then, once again, didn't do a thing offensively and punted to Christion Jones, who returned it for 11 yards.
One incomplete pass by AJ, a 16 yard run by Jalston Fowler and then a 51 yard TD pass to a WIDE OPEN DeAndrew White streaking down the sideline later, and it was a quick and EASY Alabama touchdown. 3 plays, 67 yards
4:59 left in the 1st
Alabama, 14. Michigan, 0.
Michigan got the ball back with 4:53 left and after 3 positive rushing plays and an incomplete pass by Robinson, Robinson threw a pass that was INTERCEPTED by All American, soon to be 1st Rd. NFL Draft Pick DeMarcus Milliner. Dee Milliner. God Lord in Heaven, tiny baby JESUS, I am going to miss him more than I thought I would miss Dre Kirkpatrick. Dee returned the INT 31 yards and set up a simple 2 play TD drive. Fowler ran for 8 yards and then Lacy ran the remaining 9 yards into the endzone. And the rout was on. Put in the backups. But y'all knew Saban wasn't going there yet. No game is ever "out of reach" to Saban, after that abomination against Cam Newton in 2010.
1:24 left in the 1st.
Alabama 21, Michigan, 0.
Michigan ended the 1st quarter and took a little over a minute into the 2nd quarter with an impotent, precious little drive that resulted in yet another punt, after another handful of pointless offensive plays by the Wolverines. But HEY! Good news! Denard Robinson actually COMPLETELY a pass this time that went for 9 yards. That was a positive sign!
Bama got the ball back with 13:18 left and TJ Yeldon promptly took a handoff for 40 yards like it was nothing.
After a 3 yard loss by Dee Hart, Bama called a pass play, but AJ was unable to find an open receiver. Instead of throwing the ball out of bounds or stupidly trying to force something to happen, he took off running and managed to scramble for 15 yards. Hey, our QB did a better job with his legs than that preseason Heisman candidate on the other sideline!
A screen pass to TJ Yeldon, which would've been a relatively decent gain by most mortals, was taken for 26 yards to the Michigan 8 yard line. Looking like Bama was about to make it a 4 TD lead barely into the 2nd quarter, the drive stalled with a couple incomplete passes and Shelley kicked a field goal.
9:53 left in the 2nd
Alabama 24, Michigan, 0.
I thought that team from up north was supposed to have the high powered quick strike offense. But anyway...
Michigan and Alabama traded 3 and outs the next couple drives, and then Michigan had the ball back with 5:23 left in the half on their own 2 yard line, where Cody Mandell's magnificent leg had pinned them. Following an incomplete pass and a 1 yard run by RB Thomas Rawls, Denard Robinson threw a terrible pass that was intercepted by All American Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley, who returned it 16 yards for another devastating touchdown against Michigan.
CJ could've been a 1st Rd NFL Draft pick this April, but chose to come back for his senior season in 2013. He will be one of the best LB's in the country this next season and will probably be a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2014, if NFL teams don't ignorantly place too much stock in his size. He's a tad smaller than alot of NFL teams want in star 'backers. But he's one of the best, toughest, and smartest PLAYERS in the country.
4:31 left in the 1st half
Alabama 31, Michigan, 0.
It was looking like Bama was going to take it to the locker room with a 31-0 lead, just like that famous Blackout game against Georgia in 2008.
But then Robinson hit WR Jeremy Gallon who ran for 71 yards before being stopped just short of a TD at Bama's 1 yard line. Michigan was penalized for 5 yards, but then Robinson ran it in for the 6 yard s and a TD to put Michigan on the board before Halftime.
Alabama got the ball back and was quickly going right down the field again, before Eddie Lacy took a short pass from AJ and fumbled it. Michigan's Raymon Taylor recoverd the fumble, fell on it, and ended the half. Mercifully, no doubt for fans of the Maize and Blue.
Alabama 31, Michigan, 7.
The 2nd half wasn't nearly as rough on the Wolverines. But that's not due to any increase in their level of play of decrease in intensity or play by Alabama. Nick Saban is just a man that happens to have a modicum of class and mercy. It may not appear to be the case sometimes, but it's true.
No matter what some coonass in Thibodaux or a crackhead in Miami would have you believe. And Auburn fans will hate him no matter what cause he has stolen ALL of their happiness, so their opinions are irrelevant. No, Nick Saban doesn't actually enjoy stepping on the throats of opponents ENTIRELY. He does it for just long enough, and once his point is proven, he lets off the gas a little.
Michigan's first drive ended in a punt, which was a total surprise at this point. I would've personally nominated their punter, Will Hagerup, for player of the game on their team. He did the most work of anyone in maize and blue all night.
Alabama's first drive started with a 28 yard pass from AJ to Kevin Norwood and ended with Cade Foster missing a FG, after a 16 yard reception by Amari Cooper wasn't enough for a first down, since AJ had just been sacked by William Campbell for a loss of 16 yards.
Michigan's next drive ended in a failed 4th down run by Denard Robinson, which only netted 1 yard when he needed 3. At this point of desperation, Michigan should've been flinging the ball down the damn field if they were gonna be going for it on 4th down and trying to get something going. But I think they had given up at halftime. They certainly didn't have any fight or desire left in them when they re-took the field out of the locker room.
Alabama took over and TJ Yeldon rushed for 12 yards on one play and then 8 yards on the next. Lacy was stuffed for no gain on the next play and then AJ missed on a pass to Jalston Fowler. Cade Foster's FG attempt was good this time from 51 yards. 51! Dude's got a LEG.
2:34 left in the 3rd.
Alabama 34, Michigan, 7.
Following the kickoff, Michigan started their next drive on their own 14 yard line, but a 15 yard penalty against Bama and then a 22 yard run by Vincent Smith got them into Bama territory, where Robinson was able to hit a 44 yard pass to former QB Devin Gardner for a TD. This was where Saban's mercy that I spoke of had come into play. We had already put a few guys out there on the field at this point, a few FRESHMEN, that wouldn't have played if it were closer. So sledding was a little less rough on Michigan the rest of the way.
0:14 left in the 3rd.
Alabama 34, Michigan 14.
The 4th quarter started with punts from each team. Bama still had AJ in the game, but had the backup offensive line in, as well as Dee Hart, our 4th team RB, toting the rock.
Bama's 3rd drive of the 4th quarter started with a little over 9 minutes left, at their own 44 yard line. AJ hit a 16 yard pass to Kelly Johnson (Who even I had never heard of at that moment).
Then Jalston Fowler ran for 11 yards and 6 yards. Michigan was penalized for 15 years, setting up a 1 yard TD run by Yeldon
5:32 left in the game
Alabama 41, Michigan 14
The teams traded punts and true freshman Dillon Lee ended the game with an interception of a pass from Michigan backup QB Russell Bellomy.
First downs: 20 11
Rushing Yards: 232 69
Passing Yards: 199 200
Completions/Attempts: 11/21 11/27
Off. Plays/yards: 63/431 56/269
INT's Thrown: 0 3
Punts: 4 6
Time Of Possession: 31:26 28:34
Alabama No. Yards TD Long
Yeldon 11 111 1 40
Fowler 8 68 0 18
Lacy 9 35 1 9
Hart 9 24 0 7
Drake 1 2 0 2
McCarron 4 19 0 15
Michigan No. Yards TD Long
Smith 13 37 0 22
Robinson 10 37 1 9
Rawls 6 11 0 5
Alabama Comp/Att/INT Yards
Michigan Comp/Att/INT Yards
Robinson 11-27-2 200
Bellomy 0-1-1 0
Alabama No. Yards
Norwood 3 53
Bell 2 26
White 1 51
Yeldon 1 26
Johnson 1 16
Cooper 1 15
Lacy 1 10
Williams 1 2
Michigan No. Yards
Gallon 4 107
Roundtree 2 12
Smith 2 11
Gardner 1 44
Dileo 1 20
Kwiatkowski 1 6
- TJ Yeldon was the first running back in Alabama Football HISTORY to rush for over 100 yards in his first game ever.
- Amari Cooper's pinky was dislocated during the game and nobody noticed difference.
- CJ Mosley's pick six was the 3rd of his career, tying Antonio Langham's Alabama record.
- The week leading up to the game, boxer Floyd Mayweather placed a $3 MILLION bet on Michigan to win the game. After the game, AJ McCarron tweeted, "Thank you to all the fans and your support. And to Floyd Mayweather, you wish you had $3 Million back"
- The crowd of 90,413 was the largest crowd to ever see a game in Cowboys Stadium.
- Seven true freshman saw the field in their first game ever at Bama. TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper, of course, who were immediate impact players. But also RB Kenyan Drake, linebackers Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee, CB Geno Smith, and safety Landon Collins. Also seeing the field was CB Deion Belue, a JUCO transfer. Most JUCO transfers that Saban signs see the field right away. Guys like Terrence Cody, James Carpenter, Jesse Williams, and DeQuan Menzie. Saban doesn't like to take JUCO's, he'd rather have a freshman and develop him over 4 or 5 years. So he only takes guys like these that are good enough to step in and play right away at a position of need. Eight REDSHIRT freshman saw the field: QB Phillip Ely (Only cause we so thoroughly dominated that ass that the backups saw late game action), Dee Hart, Brent Calloway (Who just got kicked off the team, as y'all probably know), center Ryan Kelly (Who will be taking the place of Barrett Jones in 2013. He's said to be really awesome), WR's Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson, Jr. I think Shinn will play alot in '13. CB Bradley Sylve, who might be the fastest guy on the team, and DT DJ Pettway, who was kicked off the team with Calloway. Pettway had a sack in this game. He really had alot of potential. Shame.
- All in all 15 first year players saw the field in the FIRST game of the season. 13 of which will be a part of this year's team. That's how Saban builds DEPTH, no matter how many upperclassmen STARS we have. Anyone who says a recruit will have to sit on the bench for 3 years before he plays because Bama is so stacked either doesn't know what they are talking about, or is just flat out lying. Any recruit who thinks that is probably not the kinda guy who is willing to work hard enough to see the field that soon in the first place. Saban signs the best, develops the best, and puts the best on the field.
The highly ranked and overhyped 2012 version of the storied Michigan Wolverines were trying to write another chapter into the legacy of one of their most exciting and popular players of all time, Denard Robinson.
AJ McCarron and friends were simply writing another chapter in a trilogy known as Fifty Shades Of Whoopass.
Michigan's Fight Song is called "Hail To The Victors". But for this night, a more apt title would've been "Hell To The Victims"
Brady Hoke's Postgame Press Conference
Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger Analysis
Quotes"We didn't play Michigan Football today. You guys could see that we didn't come to play ball today" - Denard Robinson, following the game. Well, no shit, Denard. Maybe there was a group of guys on the opposite line of scrimmage that had a little something to do with that!
"I didn't make the throws I should have made today and I feel I didn't play as the Michigan quarterback today" - Denard Robinson, again. He was accustomed to playing against air in the Big Ten.
"This team has a challenge of trying to create an identity for themselves in terms of how they competed and how they played. And I think they took a step in that direction" - Nick Saban.
"We're on the short end of the measuring stick right now" - Brady Hoke.
"We didn't play Michigan Football. And that is something that bothers our team, bothers our coaches" - Brady Hoke, again. These people were completely oblivious to the level of talent in that team that they played against. There literally was NOTHING they could've done differently.
Joe Paterno said it best, after getting his ass kicked by Bama at the beginning of the 2010 season. When asked what was the reason for it, he said, "Well sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other team and say that they are just better than you. Maybe they're just better than we are"
"It was a cold reality for Michigan. The Wolverines are still playing catch up and if Alabama keeps improving, everyone else may again be in the same boat" - Cecil Hurt