With a resounding 41-14 win over Michigan Saturday night, Alabama ripped a shot through the hearts of any team dreaming of dethroning college football’s Goliath. They are ready to repeat.
While no one expected any significant drop-off for the Crimson Tide in 2012, there was a glimmer of hope that the massive losses on defense might leave the defending champions vulnerable. Think again. They’re better.
From the outset, Alabama’s offense combined perfect calls with surgeon like execution to deliver a knockout blow to Michigan. The smorgasbord of playmakers kept the Wolverine’s defense off-balance all night.
Most of the attention will go to A.J. McCarron who finished with 199 yards and two touchdowns and the running back trio of Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and Jalston Fowler who combined for 213 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but it was the offensive line that shined.
Other than the opening drive, the Wolverines were incapable of handling the Crimson Tide’s physical play. Led by Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, the line paved the way for offensive domination. They feasted on the Wolverine’s front four allowing the running backs to pound it down their throats.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive pressure from the outside and pursuit up the middle was relentless. Every time he looked up, Denard Robinson saw Alabama defenders barreling down on him forcing him into errant throws and turnovers.
The leader was Dee Milliner. The junior cornerback single-handedly shut down one side of the field, making it impossible for Robinson to get into rhythm. He also silenced Roy Roundtree, arguably Michigan’s top receiver.
Robinson came into the game a Heisman hopeful. He left battered and bruised finishing with 200 yards passing, two interceptions and one touchdown.
It would be foolish to minimize the importance of this win. There is little doubt that the Big Ten is inferior to the SEC, but Michigan is a solid team. They might be the Big Ten’s best team and are likely a BCS bowl contender.
It is clear that Nick Saban spent the offseason preaching improvement. His 2010 team felt entitled, and he made sure this team would not make the same mistake.
Those lessons are the reason Alabama is poised to be the first school to win three BCS championships and the first team to repeat as champion since Nebraska went back-to-back in 1994 and 1995.