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Saturday, September 1, 8:00 PM EDT, ABC
Is there seriously any college football fan in the nation who will have something better to do on Saturday evening?
This is easily the top showdown of Week 1, and there's a lot riding on this early game.
While a loss won't derail either team's BCS prospects, it's clear that an Alabama loss hurts the Tide a lot more than a Michigan loss hurts the Wolverines.
First off, Alabama is the defending BCS champion.
Secondly, the Tide back-doored their way into the title game last season—and that's not likely to happen two years in a row.
And perhaps most importantly, the Alabama and SEC faithful will have to ditch one of their two favorite arguments to make the title game with a loss to Michigan.
SEC fans love to tell the rest of the nation how “their” conference is a cut above the rest. While that's certainly been true over the past half-decade or so, the college football world is cyclical, and it won't last forever.
The old argument of “even a one-loss SEC team is better than an undefeated Big Ten/Pac-12/Big 12/ACC team” might not fly when that one loss is to a potentially undefeated Big Ten team.
The second argument the SEC fans love to throw out there is how much better the SEC is compared to the Big Ten.
What if Michigan wins?
If the Wolverines do the unthinkable (from the SEC point of view), then those two arguments become mutually exclusive.
If the Big Ten is so inferior, then Alabama should be shamed for losing. But if the SEC is so good it should get a shot anyway (with one loss), then what does that say about Michigan (and the Big Ten)?
So you can see how the two arguments won't jive if the Tide falter against Michigan.
We're not predicting a Michigan win, mind you. But don't be surprised if this game turns out to be a lot closer than SEC fans would like...
Because of the national implications, and the fact that both of these teams should be highly ranked in the preseason polls, we're naming the Michigan-Alabama season opener as our top Week 1 game of the 2012 college football season.