There’s no easy way to start this article, if only because there’s no easy way to write about the Alabama Crimson Tide at this point. For years now, we’ve known Alabama to be the bigger, more talented and better coached team pretty much every time they take the football field. And Saturday night, against Michigan was just the latest example of that.
That’s because in front of a national TV audience that had waited eight months for this opening weekend game, the Crimson Tide ended it in essentially eight minutes. They dominated No. 8 Michigan 41-14, in a matchup that started with great buzz, but became a formality by halftime. In every way, shape and form, Alabama was the better football team Saturday night.
And really, that’s the only place that seems appropriate to begin with Alabama.
Sure we could talk about their 420 yards of total offense and the emergence of true freshman T.J. Yeldon as potentially the next great running back in Crimson Tide history. Or we could discuss another dominating defensive performance that left Michigan and Denard Robinson, battered, bruised and out of sorts.
But if anything, that would be an injustice to the way Alabama dominated this game.
This game wasn’t about looking at the box score and picking out stats, but instead looking at the depleted Michigan sideline, and seeing the looks on the faces of a group of guys who won 10 games last year and knew they had no chance at starting out 1-0 just moments into this game. It was about Alabama’s offensive line overwhelming Michigan’s front seven, and opening running lanes all day. And it was about a defense, one which lost four starters to the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, making Robinson’s nightmare a living hell.
In every sense of the word, this was Alabama football.
As for the particulars, it was another banner day for A.J. McCarron who is quietly emerging as one of the most consistent quarterbacks in not only the SEC, but also all of college football. He finished the evening completing 11 of 21 passes for two touchdowns, hitting eight different receivers for at least one catch in the process.
And of course, it wouldn’t have been an Alabama win without the running game; Yeldon- the true freshman who nearly ended up at Auburn- rushed for 111 yards, while bruising fullback Jalston Fowler finished with 67 yards on eight carries, for a cool 8.4 yards per touch. Oh, and that Eddie Lacy guy? The one who was supposed to replace Trent Richardson this season? Remember him? He finished with a pedestrian 35 yards and a touchdown as well.
Of course no recap of an Alabama win would be complete if we didn’t talk about the defense… and my, oh my, how about this defense. Forget about Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick; those guys are SO last year. Nope, this year it is about Dee Milliner, C.J. Moseley and Robert Lester. They dominated Michigan, holding them to just 268 yards and just 3 of 12 third down conversions. And even those numbers are misleading; most of Michigan’s offense came after the game was already out of reach.
And really if you watched the game, there was one play which pretty much summed up this matchup better than any other. It came late in the first quarter with Alabama already up 14-0.
So what was the play?
Well, it started when Robinson dropped back in the pocket, looking to throw to Roy Roundtree deep down field for a big gain. The problem was, in the process of the play unfolding, Roundtree tried to make a cut, and instead was thrown to the ground by Milliner, who then went down the field another 10 yards and intercepted Robinson’s pass. Milliner returned it 35 yards, before Robinson threw his body at him in an attempt to make a tackle, only the cornerback shrugged him off, before eventually falling down from impact a yard or two later. Robinson trotted back to the sideline, wincing in pain, and three plays later Alabama scored another touchdown to make it 21-0.
And really, that was everything you needed to know about this game.
There was Robinson- Michigan’s one equalizer- limping back to the sidelines, after a relatively unknown defensive back had thrown his best receiver to the ground, picked off his pass, and bulldozed him over in the process of the return.
For Alabama, it was just another day at the office.
And just further proof that this program is unlike any other in college football right now.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and come up with some kind of interesting story angle for next week’s game.
Wish me luck.
For all his opinion, insight and analysis, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.