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The Michigan Wolverines are entering the 2012 College Football Season ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Poll and are doing so with high expectations.
Last season, they finished 11-2 and notched their first BCS victory since 1999. A tough Big 10 schedule awaits a Michigan squad in 2012 and the year starts on September 1 in their opener when they begin the season out of conference in Dallas facing defending national champion Alabama.
The Wolverines return 13 starters form last year’s team that include a slew of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Denard Robinson leads this group and his experience could be huge. Last year, he proved why he is such a big duel-threat QB as he rushed for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns. Through the air, he passed for 2,173 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Michigan returns starting tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint who rushed for 1,041 yards and nine TDs. However, he is likely to miss a few games as he is indefinitely suspended after being arrested for DUI. Sophomore Thomas Rawls is his backup and he had just 13 attempts a year ago.
As for Alabama who enters the season ranked No. 2 in USA Today poll, they begin the season with a different mindset than most reigning national champions. They won it all in 2009 but followed that year with a 10-3 record. Avoiding a letdown this year is weighing heavily on their hearts.
Defense is where the Crimson Tide have shined and they will be tested in the opener against Michigan. Repeating their dominant performance from last year might be tough as new starters take on important roles.
Offensively, they will have one of the best offensive lines in the country. But, they have to replace Trent Richardson at tailback and Eddie Lacy will get that honor. Lacy rushed for 674 yards and 7 touchdowns in the backup role last season.
They return veteran quarterback AJ McCarron who has solidified himself as a proven leader. They will be very young at the receiver position but a strong ground game is most likely what they will thrive the most in.
Early betting lines at BetOnline have installed the Crimson Tide as 12 1/2-point favorites. The OVER/UNDER in points is set at 42 1/2.
The key to this entire game will be the Michigan offense vs the Alabama defense. Will Robinson be able to lead his squad against what should be another stout Tide defense? Questions will be answered when they face off at 8:00 pm ET on September 1.