The Michigan Wolverines meet the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium for the first regular season match-up of two of the most storied programs in college football history.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke called last season's 11-2 record and Sugar Bowl victory a "failure" because the Wolverines failed to capture the Big Ten conference title. Michigan will be the underdogs at Cowboys Stadium, but Hoke has stressed that win or lose Saturday, the Big Ten is the team's goal for this season.
The No. 8 ranked Wolverines are commanded by early Heisman Trophy candidate Denard Robinson. The senior quarterback led the team in passing and rushing last season, gaining 3,349 total yards from scrimmage, and a combined 36 touchdowns.
Michigan's second-leading rusher last season, Fitzgerald Toussaint, along with back-up defensive end Frank Clark, will not play Saturday as they were suspended by Hoke.
Toussaint pleaded guilty to a charge of operating a vehicle while visually impaired Tuesday, which was his second run-in with the law in the last two months.
Reserve running backs Thomas Rawls and Vincent Smith will take over for Toussaint against the Tide.
Alabama reloaded their championship roster with one of the top-ranked recruiting classes of 2012, and brings back five starters from last season's dominating defensive unit.
The Tide's front line lost Don't'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw to the NFL, but lineman Jesse Williams, linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back C.J. Mosley did return. They hope to equal last season's defense, which gave up only 8.2 points per game.
Junior running back Eddie Lacy leads the Alabama offense, taking over for first-round NFL draft pick Trent Richardson. Under center is returning junior quarterback AJ McCarron, who completed almost 67 percent of his passes last season.
The last time these two teams met was the 2000 Orange Bowl, when then-Wolverines quarterback Tom Brady went 34-for-46 for 369 yards and four touchdowns in Michigan's 35-34 overtime victory. Saturday will be the first time the Wolverines and Alabama have met in the regular season.
The game starts at 8pm eastern time, and can be seen online here.
Betting line: Alabama is favored by 14 points
Over/Under: 48 points
Prediction: Alabama returns most of their starters from last season's all-time ranked defense, which could contain the multi-threat Robinson. Michigan also has a very young front seven on defense, which will hurt them against the run-first Tide.
PREDICTED SCORE: Alabama 24, Michigan 7