The Sept. 1 clash between two of college football's most storied programs ended with the continued dominance of the SEC.
As highly anticipated as the 2012 Cowboys Classic between No. 8 Michigan and No. 2 Alabama was, experts were convinced that the defending national champions would be too much for the Maize and Blue to handle.
Boy, they were right.
The Tide reaffirmed the notion that they "reload not rebuild." While many questions were lingering about Alabama's defense—especially after losing multiple starters to the NFL—they quieted those doubts by intercepting Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson twice and allowing virtually no running game from the Wolverines.
As awful as Michigan looked in this game, I attribute this shellacking to Alabama's overall dominance as a football team. Head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart are two of college football's greatest defensive minds, which is why I had no doubts that the Tide would reload defensively.
For God's sake, last year's championship game was undoubtedly one of the greatest defensive performances I've ever seen.
Offensively, Alabama's much-heralded offensive line exploited Michigan's small defensive front, as true freshman T.J. Yeldon found creases all night. The Wolverine defensive line was seemingly bullied by Alabama's powerful front five.
With all this, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Why exactly do you think Michigan will win the Big Ten this year?"
Well...because it's Michigan.
In no way, shape or form were the Wolverines ready to take on a team of Alabama's caliber. The Tide are turning into a dynasty in front of our very eyes, and only elite programs are going to be able to compete with them.
Michigan is clearly not an elite program yet, as if that wasn't evident Saturday night.
The good news is that the Wolverines will not face anyone near the status of the Crimson Tide for the rest of the season—and I can say that with a high degree of confidence. Yes, Michigan has road trips to Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State, but all are winnable games.
The real reason I believe Michigan will win the Big Ten is because this team is loaded with so much talent. While I don't believe it was smart in playing Alabama to open 2012, I do believe that Michigan knows where they are as a team. And you better believe that Michigan head coach Brady Hoke won't let the Tide beat them twice.
More good news is that, in all likelihood, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will return from suspension for this week's home opener against Air Force. Undoubtedly, Toussaint provides an added dimension to the Wolverine offense.
Ultimately, Alabama's dominant victory has been blown out of proportion. Odds are the Crimson Tide would take any Big Ten team behind the woodshed just because they are that formidable. It doesn't matter what anyone says, the SEC is levels above of the Big Ten and probably always will be.
Michigan is a team that has to regain it's focus, get healthy again and move forward. This team has trained with the Navy SEALS and has now played the most dominant team in the nation. They are battle-tested, to say the least.
Denard Robinson is still the most exciting player in the land. The Wolverines' senior leader still needs to work on his footwork, and he definitely needs to work on his timing with his receivers, but this is still the same man who can use his 4.32 speed to turn a crease into a home run.
At the end of the day, Michigan is still Michigan. They are going to compete their hearts out, and they still have the potential to put up many, many points in any given game.
Defensively, there is work to be done, but once again the Wolverines will not face an offensive line like Bama's the rest of the season. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will definitely be preaching fundamentals in practice this week after watching multiple missed tackles Saturday night.
Michigan fans, do not worry. The season is not over and the world has not collapsed because of one loss to, in my opinion, the best team in the nation, hands down.
A Big Ten title is still very much within reason and so is a Rose Bowl berth.
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