The Alabama Crimson Tide are the defending national champions after owning the best defense in college football last year, and as usual they should be able to overcome some losses on defense with great recruits.
The Michigan Wolverines had a nice season in their first under Coach Brady Hoke, going 11-2 SU & 7-4-1 ATS which included a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
Michigan’s electric quarterback Denard Robinson is back for another year, but that does not impress the oddsmakers vs. an SEC defense as they have installed Alabama as a big (-12) favorite in this game, which will be played on a neutral field in Arlington, TX.
1. Why Alabama will cover the spread: The Crimson Tide have more team speed on both sides of the ball, and they also simultaneously have a big and physical offensive line that can overwhelm a much lighter Michigan defensive line. Alabama may in fact have the best offensive line in the country with every lineman weighing over 300 pounds, and when combined with the speed at the skill positions, the Tide are capable of scoring a lot of points this year if Coach Nick Saban can get a little less conservative with his play calling. The flip side of that is that a safer, mistake-free offensive approach can work too because the defense is so dominant. The starters on the defensive line average about 300 pounds and all are very quick for their size.
2. Why Michigan will cover the spread: Michigan’s chances rests squarely on Robinson, either via called roll-outs or on his improvisational skills while scrambling. Michigan needs an aggressive offensive approach, but will Robinson have enough time to seek out open receivers? The good news for Michigan is that Alabama will be breaking in some new starters on the defensive side of the ball, so perhaps Robinson’s unique skill set that SEC teams rarely see can work to his advantage.
3. Total Talk: There is currently no posted total on this game, but we suspect it will be somewhere in the 40s, and if it is, we lean to the ‘over’. The Tide should be able to run effectively behind their enormous line, and that should also set up the underrated passing game to have success vs. a slower Michigan defense. When the Wolverines’ offense is on the field, it may have early success as Robinson’s running skill can frustrate the new Alabama starters, which could lead to early points on the board. We do however feel that the Tide will stiffen as the game goes on and they make their adjustments, so it is very important for Michigan to get off to a fast start.
4. Alabama-Michigan Betting Trends: Alabama has faced three Big Ten teams since 2004 and has gone 3-0 both straight up and ATS in those games while winning by an average of +26.3 points. Michigan has faced three SEC teams in that same span and gone 2-1 straight up but only 1-2 ATS, with the last time being a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the 2011 Gator Bowl.
5. Michigan vs. Alabama Prediction: Alabama 34 – Michigan 16