Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jalston Fowler (45) carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the MIchigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Alabama beat Michigan 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Saban said Hart, a former five-star recruit who missed all of the 2011 season with a knee injury, has "improved" and is a "feisty competitor." Within the system, that’s all it takes to earn that kind of workload and that kind of respect from the players who play less because of it. "All of us are behind each other 100 percent," Fowler said. "We know what all four of us can do, so we just put one in and let him roll."
The Crimson Tide dominated a top 10 opponent, but let's be honest about something - it was a top 10 opponent asking to be dominated. Michigan, for what were probably perfectly justifiable personnel reasons, decided its best chance against Alabama was to use Denard Robinson as a pocket passer, and he just isn't good enough to beat an Alabama defense that way. Perhaps it was the Crimson Tide defense that caused that. Over the past four years, no team in college football has been more assertive in dictating to opposing offense what they can, and, more to the point, cannot do. Making another team play on your terms is two-thirds of the battle. Michigan mortgaged its offensive soul before the game ever kicked off, and quickly found itself upside down in the mortgage, with Alabama extracting higher payments than the Wolverines could make. But will Alabama be able to keep commanding the same terms?
Alabama is still Alabama: Nick Saban won’t be thrilled with the second half and how the Crimson Tide eased their foot off the gas. Even so, an impressive performance by the defending national champions in their 41-14 pummeling of No. 8 Michigan. They absolutely took apart the Wolverines and looked every bit as suffocating on defense as they did a year ago. Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick might be in the NFL now, but how would you ever know given the way the Tide played defense at Jerry World? And on offense, while there might not be a Trent Richardson on this team, Alabama has its pick of weapons and appears to be just as balanced as it was last season. It's just one game, but it's a game that sent tremors across the college football landscape.
If you happen to be wondering if Alabama is really that good or if Michigan isn't as good as some people thought, the answer is both. Alabama is really, really good, and it is only going to get better. Michigan isn't a bad team. It just picked the wrong team to play in the season-opener. Denard Robinson is a playmaker, but he faced a defense filled with playmakers, a defense that didn't have to be rebuilt, only reloaded. He wasn't fast enough to outrun Alabama's defense nor accurate enough to throw against it. AJ McCarron's confidence and skills grow with each start, and T.J. Yeldon is a star in the making. Overall, the thing to take from the Tide's 41-14 victory is that Alabama will get a lot of support as the No. 1 team in the country this week.
Alabama's defense: Many wondered if Denard Robinson and Michigan's offense could give Alabama's younger defense some fits. That didn't happen. Alabama absolutely smothered Robinson and Michigan's offensive line early on in its 41-14 win. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart game planned the Wolverines and Robinson perfectly, basically taking the potential Heisman candidate out of the game. Michigan got past Alabama's secondary on two deep plays, but the game was out of hand by that time. Senior cornerback Dee Milliner stepped up the way coach Nick Saban wanted him to. He showed tremendous coverage skills and grabbed one of Alabama's three interceptions.
"The whole summer and camp we talked about setting an identity for this defense," said Mosley, the junior linebacker who returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown. "Everybody was talking about 2010 and 2011. ... We came out with great intensity and great tenacity. We showed the world what the 2012 defense is going to do."
Plenty of other coaches do what Nick Saban does. They preach about the process, focus on getting better every day instead of the trophies and championships that await, and want their players to be accountable. Thing is, Saban does it all better. He’s the best in the business, and just in case anybody had forgotten that fact after a long offseason, the Crimson Tide’s 41-14 throttling of Michigan on Saturday night was a less-than-gentle reminder. It would be easy to say the Tide was stunningly good, but there is simply no reason to be surprised at this point. "His plan, his philosophy, offseason conditioning, attention to detail," said former Arkansas and Mississippi coach Houston Nutt, who matched up against Saban for years in the Southeastern Conference and is now working as an analyst for the CBS Sports Network. "Right now there’s not a better team, that’s coached as well fundamentally, that’s as tough, as Alabama. All the ingredients, I don’t know there is anyone better.
Michigan (lost 41-14 to Alabama): Expecting Wolverines fans to stay happy after a nationally televised humiliation is admittedly asking too much, but it's probably for the best if they forget this game ever happened. Alabama's really, really good. No further explanation needed. While it's true Denard Robinson showed no discernible improvement as a passer and a rebuilding defensive line got run over even worse than anticipated, it's not worth getting too depressed unless the same thing happens against Air Force.
Al Borges still has things to learn What in the world was Michigan running the ball on first and second down for? Vincent Smith and Thomas Rawls combined for 19 carries and 42 yards! To any other coordinator this means the running game should only be used just enough to keep a defense honest, especially when Alabama is bringing back side edge blitzes like it's the last game they'll ever play. The opportunity for Robinson to take advantage was clear, yet Borges just had to keep on truckin'. Don't do this against Michigan State again.
The two words are reflex, easily deciphered by the amateur lip-reader any time an Alabama fan appears on the behemoth jumbotron, spoken any time two groups of fans pass in the concourse, emblazoned on T-shirts, seared into my soul. Roll Tide.
All the SEC-haters received a rude welcome to the college football season this weekend: Alabama walloped Michigan, 41-14, at Cowboy Stadium. Look for the Crimson Tide to move ahead of conference rival Louisiana State to No. 1 in the USA Today coaches' poll on Tuesday after the holiday. They'll have a tougher time moving to No. 1 in the Associated Press media poll since No. 1 USC easily handled Hawaii, 49-10.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins will soon hold hearings to determine an appropriate class. If he grants O'Bannon's wishes, any current or former D-I football or men's basketball player could join the lawsuit. This could include marquee football players like Barkley and Arkansas's Tyler Wilson as well rising hoop stars like Indiana's Cody Zeller and Kentucky's Nerlens Noel. These players generate sizable revenue for their schools through consumer purchases of their jerseys and the positive impact of their image on ticket sales and television contracts. The NCAA, however, bars these players from receiving any payment other than reimbursement for tuition, room and board, books and other educational expenses.