Horrendous first half stops Michigan football team in 41-14 loss to No. 2 Alabama
But all it found was plenty of pain, frustration and maybe even some early humiliation.
No. 2 Alabama opened the game with 31 unanswered points and never looked back, crushing No. 8 Michigan in the 2012 Cowboys Classic, 41-14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The 27-point defeat goes down as the most lopsided season-opening loss in Michigan football history.
Michigan, who was out-gained by the Crimson Tide 432-269, saw a 12-game non-conference winning streak snapped with the loss.
-- Alabama completely dominated the line of scrimmage during a brutal first quarter, out-gaining Michigan 152-34 to jump out to a 21-0 lead by way of two A.J. McCarron touchdown passes and one rushing score by Eddie Lacy. Making matters worse, cornerback Blake Countess left the game with a knee injury early in the quarter -- and did not return.
-- Denard Robinson's first half was puzzling, to say the least. The dynamic senior quarterback tossed two first-half interceptions, one which was returned for a 17-yard touchdown by C.J. Mosley. Conversely, Robinson only had two first-half carries as the Wolverine offense sputtered. For the game, Robinson finished 11-for-26 for 200 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He ran 10 times for 27 yards and a score.
-- Michigan did next to nothing on the ground throughout the game. With junior running back Fitz Toussaint suspended, reserve backs Thomas Rawls and Vincent Smith combined to rush 19 times for 41 yards.
-- Alabama set "Cowboys Classic" records for points in a quarter (21) and points in a half (31), as the Wolverines were out-rushed 140-20 over the game's first 30 minutes.
-- Countess' injury forced Michigan to play without arguably its best cornerback for the entire game. Corners J.T. Floyd, Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor didn't exactly pick up the slack -- as A.J. McCarron had little trouble finding open receivers early and often.
-- Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan committed three penalties (holding, personal foul, offside). Things went from bad to worse for Lewan late in the fourth quarter, when he was forced to leave the game with an apparent right leg injury.
-- Michigan freshman Dennis Norfleet showed a spark in the kick return that didn't seem to be there last season. The Wolverines were No. 117 nationally in kick return average a year ago, and Norfleet's 40-yard return in the first half was promising, even if it was called back for a penalty.
-- Junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon was virtually the only player that showed a consistent offensive pulse in the first half, highlighted by a Cowboys Classic-record 71-yard catch and run that set up Michigan's lone first-half touchdown. Gallon finished with four catches for 107 yards.
-- Junior Devin Gardner, who appears to now be working exclusively at wide receiver, had some moments of futility in his new role Saturday. But his 44-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was definitely a positive sign moving forward.
-- Punter Will Hagerup, who struggled at times last season, had a nice day with some extended work. He booted a long of 62 yards.
-- After being dominated for most of the first half, Michigan's third quarter wasn't terrible. Alabama gained just 74 yards in the third, and the Wolverines outscored the Crimson Tide 7-3.
Michigan entered the 2012 season with plenty of hype and a lofty ranking. Is the rough beating by Alabama more a result of the Crimson Tide's dominance, or Michigan's over-ranking at this point?