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September 2, 2012ARLINGTON, Texas | It would have been impossible for the University of Alabama football team to pick up precisely where it left off in New Orleans last season - but it looked like it for 20 minutes of football.
The No. 2 Crimson Tide looked as dominant as it did in winning the BCS championship in scoring 31 unanswered points against Michigan, coasting to a 41-14 victory over the Wolverines in the Cowboys Classic. It was the Crimson Tide's 11 straight season opening win, and its 15th straight win against non-SEC opposition.
"I thought we did a good job of competing and played with a lot of energy and toughness," Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said. "But there is not one player that can sit in the locker room and say that there isn't something they need to improve on."
Freshman running back T.J. Yeldon was the star of the Crimson Tide's balanced offense with 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, the first 100-yard rushing game by a true (as opposed to a redshirt) Alabama back in his debut. Meanwhile quarterback AJ McCarron was a solid 11 for 21 for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
"We ran the ball effectively and I thought AJ did a good job of getting us in the right plays and also made a few throws," Saban said. "We still need more explosive plays in the passing game."
The Alabama defense harassed star Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson, who hit a couple of big plays but managed numbers far below his career standard, completing just 11 of 26 passes for 200 yards but throwing two interceptions and gaining just 27 yards on the ground.
"We are on the short end of the measuring stick right now," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "We got beat at the line of scrimmage. It was bad on both sides of the ball."
The Crimson Tide went three-and-out on its opening possession but began to steamroll the Wolverines soon after that, scoring three times in the first quarter on a pair of McCarron touchdown passes - a 2-yarder to tight end Michael Williams and a 51-yarder to DeAndrew White - and capped a 21-point quarter when a Dee Milliner interception return set up Eddie Lacy on a 9-yard touchdown run.
UA pushed the lead to 31-0 with over four minutes to go in the second quarter, scoring on a 22-yard Jeremy Shelley field goal and a 16-yard interception return by linebacker C.J. Mosely.
Michigan managed to get on the board before halftime when a 71-yard pass from Robinson to Jeremy Gallon set up the first offensive touchdown allowed by Alabama since last year's Georgia Southern game, with the touchdown coming on a 6-yard Robinson run. Robinson also completed a second half touchdown of 44 yards to Devin Gardner.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org