NCAA Football – Week 1
Michigan has been opened by BetAnySports as a 2/1 second-favorite to win the Big Ten this season and a moderate 30/1 longshot to win a BCS title, but if it can come into Saturday night’s Cowboys Classic with its A-Game, is has an excellent shot at winning this game outright. Not only do the Wolverines have a legitimate Heisman hopeful at quarterback in Denard Robinson, it has a shutdown defense that can make life miserable for any team it plays.
Last season, Michigan finished 11-2 overall with a 28-14 loss to Michigan State as a three-point road underdog and a stunning 24-16 loss to Iowa as a 3.5-point road favorite the only two blemishes on the record. While all the hype in this game is centered around the play of Robinson, who is one of the premier playmakers in the country, if the Wolverines are to have any chance to win this game it will rest squarely on the play of their defense.
The defending national champions also know a thing or two about playing defense after last year’s squad turned in one of the most dominating performances in recent memory. The problem that Alabama faces as it begins its defense of that title, with such a stern test, is that only five starters are back from last year. Head coach Nick Saban will be relying on a number of underclassmen to step-up and fill all those holes.
The Tide’s offense will also look radically different from last season with only seven starters back from that side of the ball. The biggest question mark will be the ability of running back Eddie Lacy to fill the huge void left by the departure of Trent Richardson. Fortunately, quarterback AJ McCarron is back along with a good chunk of an offensive line that helped Alabama grind-out an average of 214.5 rushing yards a game last year.
This game will be much closer than its nearly two-touchdown spread. Michigan is not as far away from Alabama talent-wise then the numbers indicate and the fact that this is a neutral-site game helps to further tip the scale in the Wolverines’ favor. In the end the Crimson Tide prevails, but go big on Michigan to cover with the 13.5 points. Alabama 17 Michigan 13