Alabama has always been a darling of the television networks, but it’s likely that the remote got a workout as many fans turned to something else after the Tide broke out to a 31-7 first half lead.
Alabama’s offense was hot when it had to be in putting distance between the Crimson Tide and the potentially explosive Michigan offense of quarterback Denard Robinson. And in Dallas on Saturday night, the Big D was Alabama’s defense.
Alabama returns to action next week when the Crimson Tide opens its home schedule hosting Western Kentucky in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff next Saturday will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT with regional television coverage on the SEC Network.
As would be expected, Alabama dominated statistically with 20 first down to Michigan’s 11. Bama had 42 rushes for 232 yards, 5.5 per attempt, to the Wolverines 29 carries for 69 net rushing yards, 2.4 per carry. A.J. McCarron completed 11 of 21 passes with no interceptions for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while Robinson was good on 11-26 with two interceptions for 200 yards and one touchdown. Backup Michigan quarterback Russell Bellomy tried one pass, which was intercepted.
In total offense it was Alabama 63 plays for 431 yards, 6.8 per play, and Michigan 56 for 269 yards, 4.8 per play.
Alabama had a modest 31:26 to 28:34 advantage in time of possession.
T.J. Yeldon had a bang-up debut, becoming the first true freshman in Alabama history to rush for over 100 yards in his first game. He had 11 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown. Jalston Fowler, who played both H-back and tailback, had 8-67, and starter Eddie Lacy (who was limited because of an ankle injury) had 9-35 with a touchdown.
Kevin Norwood was Bama’s top receiver with three catches for 53 yards.
Michigan’s Robinson had a rushing touchdown, but on the ground for the night had only 27 net yards in 10 attempts.
On defense, linebacker C.J. Mosley had five solo tackles and two assists and an interception, Trey DePriest had four primary tackles, three assists, and cornerback Dee Milliner was outstanding with three primary tackles, two assists, an interception, and four passes broken up.
The Alabama offense did not start the game well with an unorganized looking three-and-out. But after Christion Jones returned a punt 20 yards to the Bama 39, the Tide looked very good on the re-start.
Alabama showed great balance in going 61 yards (not including overcoming a five-yard penalty) for a 7-0 lead with just under seven minutes to play in the first quarter. Eddie Lacy lost his helmet and had to leave the game after a three-yard gain and was replaced by T.J. Yeldon. AJ McCarron completed passes of 7 and 19 yards to Keny Bell around a false start for a first down at the Michigan 29. Yeldon then followed a block by H-back Jalston Fowler for 14 and then added two five-yard runs for a first and goal at the 5. After a short Lacy run, McCarron tossed to tight end Michael Williams for the touchdown. Jeremy Shelley kicked the extra point.
Fowler got the next Alabama possession off to a good start with a 16-yard run on second and 10. McCarron then found a wide-open DeAndrew White down the right sidelines for a Cowboys Classic record 51-yard touchdown play. Shelley’s kick made it 14-0 after the three-play, 67-yard, 55-second drive.
Michigan seemed to be attacking Dee Milliner early in the game, and the junior cornerback responded with a sparkling game. On what was some sort of miscommunication, Michigan star quarterback made a perfect pass…to Milliner. Milliner picked it off at the Bama 48 and ran it back 35 yards to the Wolverines 17.
From there it was another three-play touchdown drive. After an incomplete pass, Fowler bulled his way for eight yards to the nine, and on third down Lacy followed Fowler and went to the end zone. Shelley kicked it to 21-0 with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
The Tide offense slowed down a little in the second quarter as Bama’s first possession resulted in only a field goal. Bama drove to a first-and-goal at the eight. Yeldon ran for three and then Alabama tried a fade route. I know it’s a shock, but the pass was incomplete. A busted play resulted in another incompletion and Shelley kicked a 22-yard field goal for a 24-0 Tide lead with 9:53 left in the second quarter.
The teams exchanged punts and then Robinson made his second passing mistake. His throw was picked off by Bama linebacker C.J. Mosley, who returned it 16 yards for a touchdown with 4:31 to play. The Tide had a 31-0 lead.
The biggest negative for Alabama in the first half came on Michigan’s ensuing possession. Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon got behind Deion Belue and Robinson hit him for a 70-yard gain to just inside the Bama one-yard line. The Wolverines were hit with a 12-man penalty, but it didn’t delay the score. Robinson kept it for a nice six-yard touchdown run with 2:20 to play. Brendan Gibbons kicked the extra point for a halftime score of Alabama 31, Michigan 7.
Alabama got only a field goal in the third quarter, but it was a nice one. After Cade Foster missed wide left on a 52-yard try early in the quarter, he connected on a 50-yard effort to extend the Bama lead to 34-7. Alabama had gotten the ball at midfield by holding Michigan on a fouth-and-four try.
The Wolverines came back with a nice touchdown drive. Starting at their own 14 and helped by a questionable roughing the passer penalty against Alabama, Michigan ended its drive with a 44-yard pass from Robinson to a wide open Devin Gardner, who is listed as a back-up quarterback. The Tide’s lead was down to 20 points at 34-14.
Alabama wound up the scoring with a seven-play, 57-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter. McCarron connected with new H-back Kelly Johnson on a 16-yard gain and the Wolverines were guilty of a pass interference on a McCarron pass to Cooper in the end zone to make it a first-and-goal at the Michigan 7. Fowler ran it to just outside the goalline and then Yeldon came in to cap his big first game with a one-yard touchdown run. The final point of the game was tacked on by Shelley with 5:32 to play.
Freshman linebacker Dillon Lee intercepted a Michigan pass at the Wolverines 26-yard line in the final minutes, but the second offense with Phillip Ely at quarterback ran out the clock without trying to run up the score.