Alabama vs. Michigan: Keys to Wolverines Pulling of Poll-Rattling Upset
If No. 8 Michigan executes the keys below, it will score one of the biggest wins of the 2012 college football season by beating defending national champions, No. 2 Alabama.
This is going to be far easier said than done.
Alabama is at home and is a 13-point favorite, according to Bovada.
Still, it's not impossible.
Michigan has the defense and the athletes to make enough happen that it can steal the victory.
Slow Down the Run Game
Trent Richardson may be gone, but most of the Alabama offensive line returned. This group has a very real chance of being the best offensive line in the country.
It also has a talented backfield with Eddie Lacy leading the way. Alabama will win many games this year by pounding the rock on the ground and letting its defense take care of the rest.
Michigan will not have a chance if it can't stop the run. The Wolverines have a talented but young defensive line, and these guys are going to be thrown into the fire right away.
Michigan's front doesn't have to shut down the Alabama run game, it simply has to put up enough resistance that Alabama is forced into passing situations and a few three and outs.
It absolutely cannot let 'Bama to consistently churn out big rushing yards on first downs.
Control the Offensive Edge
With starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint serving a suspension for this game, Michigan is going to rely even more heavily on the legs of Denard Robinson.
Those legs won't get them very far if they can't seal the edge in pass blocking. Typically, this is a much bigger concern in the running game, but against mobile quarterbacks, Alabama likes to go for less sacks, as it closes off the outside to force those mobile QBs to stay in the pocket.
Robinson is most dangerous when he is on the move. This allows him to make big plays running the ball and find open receivers breaking free. To do this, he is going to need his offensive linemen to maintain their blocks long enough to give him time and room to maneuver and break the pocket.
Robinson is going to have to create a lot of magic if Michigan wants to put up points against this defense.
While Alabama will have seven new defensive starters, this team doesn't rebuild, it reloads.
Turnovers, Special Teams and Penalties
Will Alabama cover the 13-point spread?
Consider these the three wishes of any underdog. Coming up big in any one of these areas can be the great equalizer.
A kickoff or punt return for a touchdown would be huge in this game, which figures to be a defense-dominant match.
Of course, winning the turnover battle will only lead to more scoring opportunities and a better time of possession, and Michigan absolutely cannot doom itself with excessive or unnecessary penalties.
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