CFN Instant Analysis
Alabama 41, Michigan 14
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Don’t start assuming Michigan is overrated.
It’s possible that Michigan still might be the best team in the Big Ten, but at the same time, Alabama just might really be that good.
Nick Saban and his staff can obviously gameplan to stop any one player, and with running back Fitzgerald Toussaint out and receiver Roy Roundtree neutralized, all the focus was on Denard Robinson to come up with a miracle, but he didn’t get any room to breathe.
But that was against the Alabama defense, and that’s what the Alabama defense does. Whether or not Robinson was beaten up too much to be his normal self as the season goes on might be up in the air, but outside of dealing with Michigan State’s terrific D, this was it for the Wolverines; it doesn’t get tougher than this.
Michigan will get Toussaint back and Roundtree will find his groove again, and Denard will be Denard.
Remember, Oregon got stuffed by LSU in last year’s
opener and turned out to be phenomenal, and there’s
still a chance for Michigan to come up with a
special season, too, but now the bar is set high for
Alabama to stay on this roll. The team just
reloaded, while Michigan obviously still has lots of
work to do.
There’s no shame in losing to Alabama.
Give Nick Saban enough time to prepare, and he’ll find a way to stop the Detroit Lions, let along the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan and Denard Robinson were no match for Alabama, as if anyone was surprised by the lopsided nature of the win. Saban has the Tide operating like a machine in Tuscaloosa, signing top talent, elevating the play of those kids and winning at a level that would make the Bear proud. ‘Bama losing seven defensive starters, many to the NFL Draft, is like a sumo dropping a few pounds. You could hardly notice a difference. Many of the faces are different than a year ago, but the results are very similar. And against a Robinson-led Wolverines team alleged to be among the ten best in America when the season began.
Alabama was pillaged by graduation and early departures to the pros, yet is in a very similar situation as it was a year ago. There are a small handful of schools within reach of the BCS National Championship Game, and the Tide is certainly one of them. That the program can rebuild so quickly is directly related to the tireless work of Saban, whose teams are going to be in the title hunt for as long as he remains on campus.
‘Bama just got done dismantling the No. 8 team in the country, and you could probably count on one hand the number of people floored by the final score. That’s where the Tide is these days, a juggernaut gearing up to defend last year’s national title.
By Matt Zemek
How did Alabama win this game? How did Michigan lose it?
The two teams agreed to play.
There are ways to beat this Alabama team, the same ways in which a coaching staff needed to attack the 2010 Crimson Tide: 1) Throw the ball down the field with a capable pocket passer. 2) Take away the Alabama ground game. 3) Use No. 1 to get an early lead and thereby put yourself in position to accomplish No. 2.
Plainly put, Michigan was not in position to do any of those three things. The Wolverines did not have a pure pocket passer with which to exploit Alabama's secondary, the weak link of the Crimson Tide's defense. Their defensive line was not particularly robust, to say the least. Playing in a season opener, the notion of playing crisp ball against Alabama's rugged physicality right out of the gate was not very realistic.
Denard Robinson is a runner, a player who has to scramble to be effective; as much as Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges wanted to remake his quarterback into a pocket passer in the offseason, that's simply not how Robinson rolls. He was recruited to Michigan to be a spread-option quarterback in the Rich Rodriguez mold, and he's just not going to make the full transformation into a dropback dart-thrower. This is a quarterback vulnerable to bone-crushing, rib-busting hits from a physical defense. Running in the open field sounds nice in theory, but against the speed of Alabama's linebackers and front four, it didn't make sense.
The long and short of it is that Robinson couldn't throw (and still can't… not at a lofty, elevated level). He wasn't and isn't the kind of quarterback Michigan or any team needs in a battle against Alabama. If Michigan had a fellow named Brady… or Todd Collins… or Elvis Grbac, this probably would have been a humdinger. Instead, it was a blowout. The matchup wasn't right. Michigan didn't have the right pieces with which to puzzle Nick Saban's crew. It's just that simple.
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb
Really not much to add here…this game went pretty much as I’ve been telling you for the past six months it would.
Said Denard Robinson legs would be virtually useless – Saban’s disciplined defense eats running quarterbacks like they’re Hot Pockets (outside of Georgia Southern’s wishbone, perhaps). Shoelace had 10 carries for just 27 yards. In fact, if you factor in Michigan’s last game from 2011 (out of conference Sugar Bowl vs. Va. Tech), Denard has 23 carries for just 40 yards. Breathtaking.
The real question is for Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. Hey Hoke, what was Denard still doing in the game with ten minutes to go down three touchdowns? Three touchdowns in ten minutes against this defense??? And what would have happened had he been injured further – seriously injured – which was the far more likely scenario?
Said Bama would truck this patchwork, undersized, inexperienced Michigan defensive line, and they did...to the tune of 231 yards. Didn’t see T.J. Yeldon hitting the 1’s: 11 carries for 111 yards and 1 touchdown. However, I felt confident that given their stable of talented backs, Bama would adopt a "running back by committee" - which they did. And yes, Nick Saban’s tizzy notwithstanding, that’s what you call it.
Said Bama would win the turnover battle, which they did - +2 after intercepting Robinson three times. Should have been more.
In fact, absent Florida’s struggles and the Notre Dame offensive atom bomb, this has been a relatively predictable weekend, all things considered. A fun weekend to be sure, but you only have yourself to blame if you didn’t see Michigan's train wreck of a football game coming.
Next time, someone tell Floyd Mayweather to give me a call beforehand.
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
Have you heard? Michigan is back.
Time to pump the brakes and hold the phone. Michigan may be closer to being among the elite in college football than a couple of years ago, but tonight is exhibit A of just how far the program still needs to go. The Wolverines were out muscled, out coached, and simply outplayed by a far more athletic team from the SEC. A team that despite losing most of its starting defense, made the most talented players wearing Maize and Blue look like average at best.
But look, not all is lost. If you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to play the best, and measure yourselves against the best. To truly get to the top, the rarefied air must be tasted. It must be breathed in and coveted. Knees must be skinned, egos hurt, and hard lessons learned.
If that’s the case, then consider this step one along a rough and tumble path.
Michigan has turned the page from the Rich Rodriguez years and have a very good coach in Brady Hoke. It also has a great coaching staff surrounding him led by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. And Blue chip recruits are taking notice and flocking to Ann Arbor more so than any other program in this great country of ours right now according to most publications.
In the end, Rome wasn’t built in a day, just like a monster program won’t be built in just one short year. No, the program will be built brick by brick, nail by nail, and held together by the mortar of sweat, hard work, and yes--even tears. And while tears may be the story tonight, the Wolverines are on a journey that is being written by its own accord.
By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball
The outcome of this game was never in doubt. Alabama whipped Michigan in every facet of the game from the opening whistle, and proved that it is best team in the country right now.
Make no mistake about it, this year's team won't rebuild like it did in 2010; it will simply reload.
The Crimson Tide defense showed very early that there wouldn't be any drop off this season, even though it lost most of its top talent to the NFL draft. The new starters played just as well as last season's counterparts, recording three interceptions and knocking down a number of other throws. They also managed to derail the Heisman Trophy campaign of Denard Robinson before it even started, holding him in check for most of the night.
Not a bad performance for an inexperienced unit.
Tonight's throttling of Michigan not only demonstrates that Alabama deserves to be the number one team in both polls, it also says a lot about the SEC. The conference is clearly playing at a different level right now, especially at the top. After all, according to the SEC media, Alabama is the second-best team in the conference behind LSU.
Mark your calendars for November 3, when the Crimson Tide travels to Baton Rouge. That game will determine the national championship - assuming that they don't meet again in January.