University of Alabama

Alabama football: Crimson Tide makes it official, announces 2012 season opener will be against Michigan

Will meet at Cowboys Stadium in Texas

By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE

Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

Alabama football coach Nick Saban spilled the beans a few weeks ago, so Thursday’s announcement was more of a formality.

The Crimson Tide officially recognized its agreement to play Michigan in the 2012 season opener in a meeting of traditional college football powers.

The new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will be the site of the Sept. 1, 2012, game that will be televised on ESPN or CBS, according to the news release from UA. Game time has yet to be determined, although the release termed it a prime-time kickoff.

It will be Alabama’s third neutral-site opener in a five-year span, beginning in 2008, when the Tide played back-to-back years in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome against Clemson and Virginia Tech, respectively. A home game with San Jose State opened the 2010 season. The 2011 opener has not been set but is not expected to be a neutral-site game, with a road trip to Penn State scheduled for the following week.

Besides playing a marquee game against a big-name opponent, the neutral-site games provide a recruiting boost for schools involved. Scheduling these games in talent-rich areas such as Atlanta and Texas is no coincidence.

“It’s exciting to announce that two of college football’s most tradition-rich teams will be meeting in 2012,” UA athletics director Mal Moore said in the news release. “We have such tremendous respect for Michigan: their school, their outstanding tradition, and their following. It’s a terrific opportunity for our student-athletes and our entire program, in addition to being a great benefit in recruiting. It’s yet another chance for our university to be showcased on a national stage early in the season at a terrific stadium.”

Reportedly built at a cost of more than $1 billion, the new Cowboys Stadium opened last year and seats 80,000 spectators and features a 160-by-72-foot high definition television screen that was the world’s largest upon completion.

Alabama and Michigan have played three times, and the Wolverines hold a 2-1 advantage. The most recent meeting came in the 2000 Orange Bowl, where Michigan escaped with a 35-34 overtime win on a missed Tide extra point.

The Wolverines have the most wins in college football history (882); Alabama (797) ranks eighth.

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