COMMENTARY| One doesn't have to be a fan of the Michigan Wolverines or Alabama Crimson Tide to eagerly anticipate the two program's meeting Sept. 1 at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, located just outside Dallas.
The Wolverines are coming of a spectacular season in which first-year head coach Brady Hoke led them to an 11-win season and 2012 BCS Sugar Bowl title. The Crimson Tide, which like the Wolverines, didn't win their division in 2011, showed the nation that regardless of conference finish, they were indeed the best in the land by dominating Louisiana State in the 2012 BCS National Championship.
The SEC is undoubtedly the premier league in the country. It has the tradition and record to back up that claim. However, Michigan, which is on the rise under Hoke, is one of the nation's proudest college programs with a nearly-unmatched pedigree -- not to mention one of the most passionate group of fans around.
The 2012 NCAA football season will get started the right way by having Michigan and Alabama clash at the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys Stadium is a huge, state-of-the-art venue -- something Michigan is accustomed to playing at. Michigan Stadium, or "The Big House," is arguably the finest forum football has to offer -- at any level.
Being from Flint, I have an interest in this game because of players involved. For one, I followed the career of former Flint Northern star running back Thomas Rawls, who enters his sophomore year with the Wolverines this fall. He's a class act and one of the most humble kids I've met. It's hard not to root for the best player to come out of Flint since former Alabama star Mark Ingram, who graduated from Flint Southwestern.
Ingram won the 2009 Heisman Trophy and helped guide the Tide to a BCS title. Although Ingram is with the New Orleans Saints, I still follow Alabama football to a degree. I got used to doing updates on him when I worked at a local Flint newspaper, so trailing the Tide became second nature.
As a college football enthusiast, I can't imagine a better game to start the year. In fact, I can't recall a game -- one that doesn't feature my favorite team, at least -- that I've anticipated so much.
It will interesting to see how Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson fares against a stout Alabama defense. My guess is that the NFL-caliber line of the Tide will limit the "wow" plays that Robinson has become legendary for executing. He'll be forced to use his arm and stay in the pocket -- all while watching his tail and avoiding speedy linebackers from putting his head in the turf.
Michigan has a developing running game which should present a challenge to the Tide's defense. With Rawls likely to see more carries this season, I can't wait to see how the young star-in-the-making does against top-tier talent. He's a powerful runner, an absolute tank. Although I don't pull for Michigan, I'll certainly pull for Rawls, Flint's own.
Gear up, sit back and enjoy the ride Sept. 1. Michigan-Alabama promises to be a thriller in some sense of the word. Alabama and Michigan have played three times, and the Tide will look to even the series at 2-2.
Adam Biggers has followed NCAA football for over 20 years, specifically the Big Ten Conference. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.