The eyes of the college football world will be on Dallas, Texas, on Saturday night -- and Jerry Jones wouldn't have it any other way.
Cowboys Stadium will host the biggest game on the Week 1 slate, as the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines in what should be an excellent game.
Maize 'n Brew, SB Nation's Wolverines blog, has a pretty comprehensive preview of the game -- from a Michigan perspective, of course.
Quarterback Denard Robinson and Michigan's offense will get to face off against Alabama's vaunted defense, and here's how the folks over at Maize 'n Brew see that matchup:
Michigan can gain the advantage in this matchup, but it is going to depend heavily on the Wolverines' ability to run the football. When Michigan can move the ball on the ground effectively (Neb '11, OSU '11) it creates a lot of short fields, which lead to first downs and openings in the passing game that Robinson can exploit. When Michigan's run game is bottled up (MSU '11, VT '12) it puts too large a burden on Robinson's shoulders and allows other teams to bring more pressure.
The Tide will still be a very good defense, but losing so many key players -- not only of the Make Plays variety, but more importantly the kinds of guys that lead the defense and deal with checks and stunts on the field -- will mean that Michigan won't be facing a perfect unit. There will be great defensive plays, but there will also be mistakes. Michigan will need to make good on those mistakes if it wants a chance to keep up on the scoreboard.
The outlook, though, isn't so great for when Alabama has the ball:
This is where things get ugly for Michigan. It all starts with the offensive line. Alabama is going to look to run the ball early and often, not taking the reins off McCarron in the passing game and instead allowing him to pick his spots and bring along the inexperienced receiver corp. On top of that, Michigan's coverage isn't overly susceptible, where the defensive line and small-ish linebacking corp will have their hands full. Look for Alabama to run for somewhere around 150 yards and 5.0 ypc. Yes, it'll be that bad.
Michigan's one hope is that when it is able to force the Tide into third-and-long situations, that the pass defense makes things hard enough on Alabama's young receiving corp that the Tide struggle to convert longer downs. With McCarron's development and ability to place the ball in a small window, this seems less and less likely.
The entire preview is well worth reading, so head over to Maize 'n Brew and check it out.
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