Michigan vs. Alabama: Two top ten teams. Two historically great programs. Two teams operating in completely different stratospheres. Alabama is where Michigan hopes to be in a few years with a few more top ten recruiting classes.
Alabama on Offense: Alabama has the nation’s best offensive line, going against Michigan’s reformatted defensive line. Size has been mentioned, but it is not as much of a concern as experience level and projected production. Mattison’s defense is predicated on aggression and forcing opponents out of their comfort zone. The Tide should be simple, patient and content to press their advantage on the ground without making mistakes. Michigan being forced to man up in a compact field could be trouble.
Alabama on Defense: As dominant as last year? Perhaps not. Though with the talent and proven track record of the coaching staff, we can presume Alabama will be a very good in all three phases and finish in the top ten nationally. Michigan loses some dynamism in the backfield with the Toussaint suspension. They are vulnerable in the middle of the offensive line. Denard Robinson has not shown he can be accurate consistently on the short routes Alabama will leave open. Fear for the Wolverines, if Saban tries to rush the A-Gap like Michigan State did last year.
Can Michigan Win? Yes, though it will look a lot like their win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl: Ugly. Michigan gets comprehensively outplayed, hangs around through a combination of luck and some Denard magic and makes the right play at the right moment to steal the game. They have done it before. They could do it again, but it would be an improbable upset.
Prediction: Low-scoring with Alabama executing conservative, time-wasting drives. We love Hoke. We wish we were as bullish as Whitlock, but, alas, Alabama covers on a late touchdown. 27-10.