Alabama 41, Michigan 14: The Sequel Begins with a Bang

Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri (3) and nose guard Brandon Ivory (62) celebrate a defensive stop during the game against the MIchigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Alabama beat Michigan 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Nobody really expected Michigan to win this game. Sure, most Michigan fans probably thought the Wolverines had a chance at pulling the upset -- Michigan was a Top 10 team going into this game -- but very few impartial observers had Alabama losing the kind of neutral-field nonconference game that Nick Saban has made his specialty.

But that doesn't mean that many people foresaw what actually happened Saturday night, when Alabama started the game with 31 straight points to make the final 34 minutes of the game little more than an academic exercise. By the time the Wolverines finally got on the board with 2:20 left in the first half, there was really no reason for the uninterested fan not to turn to another game; few would have blamed Michigan fans for reaching for the remote.

AJ McCarron did what he's supposed to do, completing 11 of 21 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and T.J. Yeldon justified the buzz by rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Dee Milliner's interception came on a questionable no-call on what could have been pass interference, but he played an all-around solid game as the leader of a secondary that lost three-quarters of its starters from last year.

And overall, the defense was of the caliber we've come to expect from Nick Saban, limiting the Wolverines to 269 total yards and all but shutting down the Michigan running game, which generated just 69 yards on 29 carries. Denard Robinson was largely contained. Sure, the Wolverines didn't have Fitzgerald Toussaint in the lineup, but you would have a hard time making a case that he would have swung the game.

There are more troubling matchups looming on the horizon for the Tide. Arkansas will test the relatively green secondary in a couple of weeks, and the November game against LSU is still likely to be the most formidable challenge. But Alabama looks very much like it's going to spend another year as the team to beat in the SEC -- and probably the team to beat for the national title.

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