In the impressive dismantling of No. 8 Michigan, the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide confirmed that no matter where they reside in the rankings, the defending national champions will be a factor in the BCS title race.
Nick Saban’s squad smothered the Big Ten's preseason favorites and jumped out to a 31-0 lead en route to a decisive 41-14 victory at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
In case pundits and fans across the country doubted whether Saban and his staff could reload for another title run despite the loss of five players selected in the first 35 picks of April’s NFL draft, the result of the hyped clash with Brady Hoke's Wolverines should quell any lingering reservations.
The two teams that claimed the top spots in the preseason USA Today coaches’ poll and the Associated Press poll—LSU and USC, respectively—did nothing in their respective opening weekend victories to hurt their standings as the nation’s top teams.
After a turbulent week dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Isaac, LSU knocked off North Texas, 41-14, while the Trojans blasted Hawaii, 49-10, in Los Angeles.
However, neither the Tigers nor the Trojans were facing an opponent coming off a BCS bowl victory. Plus, as the sport’s current premier powerhouse, Alabama’s dominant performance against a top 10-caliber opponent signals that its reign is still very much an ongoing saga.
Of course, this sentiment could be premature, and the thrashing merely reflective of an overrated Wolverines squad.
Plus the Tide still have a challenging slate ahead of them in the always rough and rugged SEC, beginning with a trip to No. 10 Arkansas in two weeks.
That said, the 'Bama offense was a display in balance and efficiency against Michigan—with quarterback A.J. McCarron looking like he is ready to become a consistent passer capable of making teams pay for stacking the box to stop the run.
The Tide piled up 231 yards on the ground, led by true freshman and budding star T.J. Yeldon’s 111-yard debut performance.
The defense flustered and battered Wolverines quarterback and Heisman candidate Denard Robinson, limiting him to just 11 completions on 26 attempts and picking off two of his passes—one returned deep into Michigan territory, and the other C.J. Mosley’s 16-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Regardless of how the season plays out, Saban and his team delivered a clear message that despite the changing faces, the results at season’s end are expected to be the same.