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Alabama-Michigan: It's the Tide defense vs. Denard Robinson

NATIONAL GAME OF THE WEEK — Nick Saban says the Tide faces its “most significant” quarterback challenge since Cam Newton.
by Berry Tramel Modified: August 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm •  Published: August 31, 2012

Denard Robinson hasn't quarterbacked every Michigan game since the Bo Schembechler days. It just seems like it.

And now the Wolverine senior reaches his biggest stage: the Alabama-Michigan game Saturday night at JerryWorld in Arlington, Texas. No Ohio State game nor the Sugar Bowl last January can match the status of this season-opening showdown.

Bama coach Nick Saban says Robinson probably is the most “significant” quarterback the Crimson Tide has faced Cam Newton in November 2010.

“In terms of what he can do in the game, in the offense and how the offense is sort of built around and features him as a player,” Saban said. “He does a good job of executing their offense. He's become a better and better passer each game, each year. I think that's a big key.”

Well, that's actually not true. Robinson, always a run threat, regressed as a passer last season. As a sophomore in the Rich Rodriguez offense, Robinson completed 62.5 percent of his passes, with 18 TDs and 11 interceptions. Last season, Brady Hoke's first year coaching the Wolverines, Robinson completed just 55 percent, with 20 TDs and 15 interceptions.

Robinson's rushing also took a dip, from 1,702 yards (an NCAA single-season record for a quarterback) in 2010 to 1,176 yards last season.

Against what figures to be another great Alabama defense, eighth-ranked Michigan needs a big game from Robinson. That could propel the Wolverines to an upset of the second-ranked Tide and Robinson to the top of the Heisman Trophy chase.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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