2012 Alabama Crimson Tide Football: 5 Reasons Why the Tide Rolls Michigan
Saturday, Alabama opens up the defense of their BCS National Championship, but don’t tell Nick Saban and Co. that. Saban cringes at the mere mention of the phrase "title defense." Saban’s philosophy on the matter is simple: His players should view last year's championship team the same way they would the 1978 title team — simply show respect to what they accomplished and strive to cement their own legacy.
The Tide open the season playing the Michigan Wolverines at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, but the stands will be full of crimson and white.
Michigan is led by its talented dual-threat quarterback, Denard Robinson, and is coming off an impressive campaign of its own after defeating Virginia Tech in last season’s Sugar Bowl.
Nonetheless, Alabama is a huge favorite (two touchdowns), and outside of Ann Arbor, the Wolverines aren't being given too much of a chance.
Here are five reasons why the Tide will roll in the season opener.
5. Saban Doesn’t Lose Season Openers
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Here’s a stat Michigan might not want to know: Under Nick Saban, the Tide have never lost a home opener. To be fair, three of the Tide’s openers were against sub-par competition in Kent State, West Carolina and San Jose State, but the other two games were against highly ranked teams.
In 2008, Alabama opened the season with a 34-10 drubbing of then No. 9 Clemson in the Georgia Dome. The Tide would go on to finish the regular season undefeated before dropping their final two contests.
The following season, Alabama beat the No. 7 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in the season opener and finished a perfect 14-0 en route to a national championship.
Incidentally, Michigan enters this year ranked No. 8, and if history is any indicator, they can expect to drop a few spots after Saturday’s game.
4. A.J. McCarron
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Boy, was the world ever wrong about A.J. McCarron. The sophomore was thought to be the biggest question and possibly biggest weakness (next to the kicking game) going into the national championship a season ago.
How did McCarron respond?
He threw for 234 yards against one of the top defenses in the nation and was named offensive MVP of the game. McCarron is now the unquestioned leader of the Tide and his performance in the national championship game provided us with just a sample of what he is capable of doing.
Big players play big in big games, and the opener against Michigan is just that. Look for McCarron to light up the Wolverines defense and get the Tide off to a quick start in 2012.
3. Alabama Offensive Line
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Hands down, this is the best offensive line in college football. The Tide are so talented up front that they moved last year’s Outland award winner and All-American left tackle Barrett Jones to center.
Jones is joined by fellow 2012 Outland Trophy and All-American hopefuls Chance Warmack (LG), D.J. Fluker (RT) and Anthony Steen (RG). All four started for the Tide’s title team a year ago. The only change on the line is the addition of Cyrus Kouandjio (LT) who played in eight games last year before his season ended early with a knee injury.
With these five men leading the way, running back Eddie Lacy should put up excellent numbers all season long. Michigan’s defensive front can expect to be bruised, battered and bullied all night. Alabama will look to grind it out on the ground for 60 minutes and wear Michigan’s front seven down.
2. The Tide's Defense
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With all the talk of what Alabama lost on defense—with three first-round picks in the NFL draft and seven starters gone overall—no one is talking about the players who are still here.
Defensive linemen Jesse Williams and Damion Square return, as well as safety Robert Lester, and linebackers C.J. Mosley (who had an interception in the BCS title game) and Nico Johnson.
Johnson was an All-SEC Freshman in 2009, started 10 games in 2010 and started for last season’s championship team.
A drop-off defensively is to be expected, but the Tide still boast one of the best units in the nation. Starting cornerback DeMarcus Milliner was a freshman All-American two seasons ago and now has the opportunity to show what he can do as a full-time starter.
The Tide returns a group of hungry players out to make a name for themselves. Saban is a defensive guru and this roster will be eager to make their mark in 2012. Look for them to eliminate Denard Robinson’s rushing opportunities and force him to take chances through the air.
Make no mistake about it: The offense might garner all the attention, but if this team is to repeat as champions it will be because of the defense.
1. Saban Doesn’t Lose Outside the SEC
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In five seasons as head coach at Alabama, Nick Saban has compiled a 55-12 record. Half of those losses came in Saban's first year as coach in 2007. If you eliminate that season, Saban has lost only six games in four years!
More importantly, of those six losses, five have come to SEC opponents (twice to LSU, once to Florida, South Carolina and Auburn). The last time Saban lost to a non-SEC opponent was the 2009 Sugar Bowl when the Tide were upset 31-17 by Utah.
The last time the Tide lost to a nonconference foe in regular-season play was back in November of 2007, when the Tide stumbled at home and lost to Louisana-Monroe 21-14.
It has been nearly five calendar years since the Tide dropped a nonconference game. Don’t expect Michigan to break that streak.