Michigan Football: How Wolverines Can Top Alabama in Week 1 Showdown

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIAugust 3, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines looks on in the third quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the biggest matchups in college football this entire season will happen in Week 1 between No. 2 Alabama and No. 8 Michigan. It won’t be easy to defeat the defending BCS champions, but the Wolverines can make it happen.

Alabama has one of the best defenses in the country, but Michigan will be able to counter with one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the game, Denard Robinson. Robinson is easily the key to victory for Michigan.

Robinson went from a no-name quarterback from a big-name school into a Heisman candidate in the blink of an eye. He passed for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns and also ran for over 1,000 while scoring 16 rushing touchdowns. Injuries plagued him throughout parts of the Wolverines’ season, but he’ll be healthy and ready to go against the Crimson Tide.

Robinson has to be effective throwing the ball and able to create a sound play-action pass game in order to beat Alabama. If he can do those two things, it will open up opportunities for him to run—which is arguably his biggest asset. Alabama lost a couple of their defensive backs to the NFL draft which could be an area for the senior to target both through the air and on the ground.

Robinson won’t have his favorite target from last season—Junior Hemingway—around anymore, so he’ll have to work more frequently in Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree. Both were targets that Robinson found often last season but for as much yardage or big plays as Hemingway.

Another big way that Michigan can come out on top in this showdown is to break down the Alabama offense. The Wolverine defense only allowed 17.4 points per game last season which was the sixth best in the country. In order to beat the Crimson Tide, they’re going to have to play lockdown defense.

Alabama star running back Trent Richardson is now gone—which plays highly advantageous to Michigan. Eddie Lacy could be the one taking the lead on the majority of the rushing play, and he’s also a big-play threat. The Crimson Tide also brought in two good backfield recruits in Tyren Jones and Altee Tenpenny who both could get a fair amount of snaps in this one.

Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron obviously did enough to win Alabama the BCS National Championship, but will he have the same effect this year? Michigan needs to get to him early and often to try and fluster his confidence. If they can shake him up a little bit, they’ll put themselves in good position for an interception—of which McCarron rarely let happen last season.

Coming out and taking down the No. 2 team in the country would be a major confidence booster for the players at Michigan and could lead to great things for the rest of the season. We saw the Wolverines in a BCS Bowl last season and a win over Alabama in Week 1 would definitely be a step in the right direction toward back-to-back appearances.

Make sure that you tune in on Saturday, September 1 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC in order to witness firsthand what could be the biggest upset of the season.