Two of college football’s most historic programs will collide in Cowboys Stadium Saturday night for an early season regular season matchup deserving of big-time bowl hype. The Michigan Wolverines, with the most college football victories in the history of the sport, look to show they are worthy of playing on the same field as the defending BCS champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide. No matter who wins Saturday night though, Michigan is likely to lose.
The SEC as a conference has risen to the top of the college football world, and the hype machine paving the golden road to a seventh straight BCS championship is already being paved by national pundits and beyond. The Crimson Tide figure to once again be in the title hunt from start to finish, starting the year as a consensus top three team regardless of what poll you look at. Alabama enters the game as the favorite against one of the Big Ten’s biggest brands, and if they get out of Dallas with a win all will be going according to plan if you ask college football analysts.
Heck, if the Tide slip in the opener and go 0-1 it is entirely possible that they could run the table the rest of the way and make a return trip to the BCS championship game in January. After all, the college football gods would not dare keep a 12-1 SEC champion out of the championship game right? Especially when the first loss came in week one to a team ranked in the top ten? Not a chance.
And this is why no matter what Michigan does Saturday night, be it win or lose, the Wolverines will still be given only a fraction of any credit they may be deserving.
They had all summer to prepare for one game.
Alabama could have afforded to lose so it’s no big deal.
Yeah, that’s nice Michigan. Good game. Bet you can’t do that again.
Michigan beat Alabama? I’d like to see them play an SEC schedule!
A lot of the bias is not Michigan’s fault, but they are in a position where they still need to prove something. Last season saw a great turnaround under new head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines returned to the BCS table, getting a seat at the Sugar Bowl. Hey, they even won that game (although against a Virginia Tech probably not all that deserving of the spot). Now Michigan gets to play one of the top teams in the country, what some may call a real challenge.
You know those sort of comments will be filling the columns in newspapers around the southeast and beyond. Sure, if Michigan wins they will be heralded for their accomplishment and they will fly the Big Ten banner proudly for a week in the north, but the work will only be just beginning for the Wolverines. Even if Michigan wins all eyes in Ann Arbor will be focused within the conference.
Beat Michigan State. The maize and blue have fallen four straight years.
Beat Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish will be seeking revenge after last season’s ending.
Beat Ohio State. Michigan turned that ship around last season but now Urban Meyer is leading the Buckeyes, and Ohio State may be the best team in the Big Ten by the end of the season.
If Michigan loses, then not much will change. The Tide are a top-notch opponent, and nobody would blink if Michigan were to lose the game. Michigan will still be expected to have a good year in the Big Ten, perhaps good enough to play for the Big Ten championship at the end of the season, but a loss to Alabama will be used as evidence that Michigan (and by default the Big Ten and the rest of college football) still has work to do to be on the same playing field as the SEC elite.
A win puts Michigan in the BCS title picture heading in to week two, but how much respect will they really gain?
2012 Cowboy Classic
- No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 8 Michigan
- 8 pm ET, ABC
Previous Cowboy Classic Results
- 2009: No. 20 BYU 14, No. 3 Oklahoma 13
- 2010: No. 6 TCU 30, No. 24 Oregon State 21
- 2011: No. 3 LSU 40, No. 4 Oregon 27
Kevin is a national college football writer for pingroof.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Submit your mailbag questions via Tumblr. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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