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Alabama Scheduling I'd Like to See: Michigan

You can't expect me to mention Michigan without posting a picture of a Michigan female golfer soccer mom cheerleader, can you?

Maybe even more than Southern Cal, Michigan seems to be on the top of a lot of "dream opponent" lists.  The Mayor has been pushing for a series between the Dawgs and the Wolverines for some time now, and Michigan (and the Big 10) has taken some heat for refusing to come south.  As Paul Westerdawg notes:

Other than the IU/UK match-up, the SEC schools have found it nearly impossible to get Big 10 schools to come south.

UGA and LSU are the most recent SEC schools to fail in bringing Michigan, Ohio State and their ilk south for home/away series.

Fact: Michigan hasn't played an SEC team on the road, face masks or even the New deal. The year was 1922 when they went to Vandy.

That's the ONLY SEC road game that Michigan has ever played.

At what point do folks say, "Hey, maybe the SEC teams aren't ducking UM. Maybe UM is refusing to come down there." Especially given that many southern teams have made trips to Ann Arbor.

I personally want to see Michigan on the schedule for revenge purposes, as the Wolverines holds a 2-1 record against our own beloved Tide.  What's even more criminal than the fact that we have a losing record against them is that all three meetings have come in the post season, meaning Michigan has never played at Bryant-Denny (or Legion Field) and Alabama has never played in the Big House, and that the two teams didn't meet until 1988, meaning Bear Bryant never had a chance to face such a prestigious program.  

The first meeting between the two took place at the end of the '87 season in the Hall of Fame Bowl.  It was Bill Curry's (boo! hiss!) first season at the helm of the Tide as he took his 7-4 squad to Tampa after dropping two straight to Notre Dame (boo! hiss!) and Auburn (boo! hiss!) to face legendary coach Bo Schembechler and a similarly 7-4 Wolverines, who had also lost to the Irish earlier in the season and were smarting from a loss to their own bitter rivals, THE Ohio State Buckeyes.  It would begin a short series of thrilling late game victories for both teams, as the Wolverines topped the Tide 28-24 on the strength of a fourth down TD pass in the final minute of the game.  

The two teams would meet again in Tampa Stadium on New Year's Day 1997.  After a successful career at Alabama, Tide coach Gene Stallings had decided to step down as head coach, ending his tenure with an appearance against Michigan in the Outback Bowl (formerly the Hall of Fame Bowl).  The Tide came into the game at 9-3 after falling to Florida in the SEC championship game while the Wolverines came to Tampa with an 8-3 record under second year head coach Lloyd Carr.  At the start of the fourth quarter, neither team had scored a touchdown, but Michigan held a 6-3 lead and was in the red zone and closing in for a score.  Alabama blitzed, and Michigan QB Ryan Griese was hit from the blind side by Tide defender Kevin Sigler just as he released the ball, causing a small toss up which Tide linebacker Dwayne Rudd (later named the game MVP) picked out of the air and returned 88 yards for a TD to put the Tide on top 10-6.  Alabama would score one more time, as Shaun Alexander, whom the Wolverines had passed on, put the game out of reach with a 46 yard TD run.  Michigan scored one more TD and went for two, but Alabama recovered the last second onside kick to preserve the win.

Defense wins football games, kids.

The final meeting between the two took place at the end of the 1999 season chronicled in Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer.  Alabama had somehow managed to take the SEC despite losing to La. Tech earlier in the season, and accepted a bid to face Michigan in the Orange Bowl on New Years Day 2000.  The Wolverine were 9-2 coming into the game, having dropped two in a row to Sparty and Illinois earlier in the season.  The game became a high scoring affair, as Shaun Alexander scored three TDs on the ground and ran for over 150 yards, equaling that of his Michigan counterpart David Terrell.  At the very end of the fourth, Michigan kicked what would have been the game winning field goal at the gun, but Tide safety Phillip Weeks blocked it to force overtime.  Michigan got the ball first, and scored a TD on the first play of the game as QB Tom Brady hit WR Shawn Thompson on a 25 yard strike.  Alabama answered back, with Andrew Zow finding Antonio Carter in the end zone on a 21 yard play action pass.  Unfortunately, Tide kicker Ryan Pflugner pushed the extra point kick wide right, ending the game with the Wolverines victorious, 35-34.

Considering the fact that these two teams always play excellent football against each other, it's time to actually schedule some.  The Big 10 has previously been reluctant to schedule SEC teams because of the quantity of bowl tie ins between the two conferences and the likelihood of a post season rematch (a legitimate concern), but now that only the Outback and Capital One bowls place Big 10 and SEC teams that shouldn't be a concern.  Further, the bowls themselves would more than likely choose to pair up two teams that haven't played, rather than risk low TV ratings and attendance on a lackluster rematch.  And besides all that, worrying that you MIGHT have to play a marquee team twice is no reason to NOT guarantee that you will play them at least once.  So let's join the chorus of "we want Michigan," and try to at least get a neutral site one off sometime in the near future.