College Football Predictions: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Michigan Wolverines
The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 8 Michigan Wolverines will open up their 2012 college football schedules on Saturday night, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 8:00pm ET from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.
Sports bettors will find that the Crimson Tide are 14-point neutral-site favorites in the college football betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum), while the total is holding steady at 45.5.
There's no doubt that this Big Ten and Southeastern Conference matchup is one of the marquee games of the opening weekend, which has led ABC Sports to put its No. 1 broadcast team in the booth, with Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit calling the action.
Let's take a closer look at this contest from a betting perspective.
Previous Series Meetings
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The Michigan Wolverines came away with a 35-34 victory in their last meeting with the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2000 Orange Bowl, providing them a 2-1 lead in the series.
There’s no doubt that the Southeastern Conference is king in college football, with one of its members winning the BCS Championship Game the last six years, but the Wolverines have held their own against such opponents.
Michigan walks into Cowboys Stadium touting a 24-9-1 all-time record against SEC foes, but sports bettors will notice the program has gone 4-5 against the spread (ATS) in this type of situation in its last nine opportunities.
On the other side of things, the Crimson Tide have won 19 of their 30 games against current Big Ten members, which includes a 3-0 ATS mark the last two seasons.
Defending National Champions Opening a New Season
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The Alabama Crimson Tide return to the gridiron after capturing the 2012 BCS Championship Game with a resounding 21-0 victory over the LSU Tigers as 2.5-point neutral-site favorites on Jan. 9.
A letdown is certainly possible, but the last 13 national champions have opened the following season with a victory, winning those contests by an average of 32 points.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban had his team in this same situation to start the 2010 campaign, picking up a 48-3 win over the San Jose State Spartans as 38.5-point favorites.
Michigan's defense better be ready for a major challenge, considering Alabama has averaged 39.8 points per game in its last 10 season openers overall.
Michigan Wolverines QB Denard Robinson
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Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson has a great opportunity to be the first Big Ten Conference player to win the Heisman Trophy since 2006, but he faces a stiff challenge in taking on one of college football's top defenses on Saturday.
The senior ranks seventh in the program's history in throwing for 4,931 yards, while sitting just 1,252 rushing yards away from potentially becoming the NCAA's all-time leader in that category for a signal-caller.
Robinson needs to be dynamic if the Maize and Blue plan on scoring a significant upset in this affair.
Alabama Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron
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Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron was a key player in bringing home the national title to Tuscaloosa, completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards in the championship game.
He's certainly not going to wow you with his physical ability like Denard Robinson, but he did lead one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the nation last year. The Crimson Tide averaged 215.2 yards per game in the air and 214.5 yards per game on the ground.
The junior will also be protected by an experienced offensive line, as the group has 95 combined starts, with senior center Barrett Jones leading the way.
Michigan's September Success
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The Michigan Wolverines will begin their second year under the watch of head coach Brady Hoke, as they look to push their September win streak to 14 games.
Sports bettors will find that the Maize and Blue picked up a 34-10 win over the Western Michigan Broncos as 14.5-point home favorites in last year's season opener.
The Wolverines have covered six of their last eight games during college football's traditional opening month.
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The quarterbacks are definitely key players in this matchup, but both teams also have quality options at running back.
Eddie Lacy is now the man at Alabama with the departure of Trent Richardson to the Cleveland Browns, coming off a 674-yard season as a sophomore. He carried the ball 11 times for 43 yards in the national title game.
The availability of Michigan's Fitz Toussaint isn't exactly crystal clear at this point in time, as he was disciplined by the football program in July.
If everybody's ready to go, I anticipate the Wolverines covering the spread in their third opportunity as a neutral-field underdog of 7.5 to 14 points.