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Published: Sunday, 9/2/2012

First half a disaster for Michigan

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Alabama defensive back Robert Lester breaks up a pass intended for Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon. Alabama defensive back Robert Lester breaks up a pass intended for Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first half simply was a struggle for the Michigan football team.

Against defending national champion Alabama, the Wolverines couldn't muster much Saturday at the Cowboys Classic.

Trailing 31-7 at halftime, Michigan accrued only 119 yards (20 yards rushing and 99 yards passing), the bulk of which came in the second quarter. By comparison, Alabama had 280 yards of offense -- a balanced attack that included 140 yards passing by quarterback A.J. McCarron.

With less than four minutes left in the half, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson found Jeremy Gallon for a 71-yard pass, which put the Wolverines at the Alabama 1-yard line. A penalty for 12 men on the field put Michigan back at the 6, but Robinson finished the first half by scoring the Wolverines' first touchdown.

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FOR THE RECORDS: Alabama set a handful of Cowboys Classic records in the first half, including most points in the first half (31) and most points in a half (31). The Cowboys Classic has been played since 2009.

BAD PENALTIES: Taylor Lewan took a pair of costly penalties in the first quarter. On Michigan's opening drive, the offensive lineman was called for a face mask, a 15-yard penalty that negated a lengthy run by Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson and put Michigan back on its own 18-yard-line. Then, with less than three minutes left in the first quarter, Lewan was called for a 10-yard penalty for holding that put Michigan back at its own 25.

The Wolverines finished the first half with four penalties for 41 yards.

NO HELMET, NO PROBLEM: Alabama's Eddie Lacy lost his helmet on Alabama's second drive, after a 3-yard carry that put the Tide at midfield.

Lacy had to sit out a play after losing his helmet, but Alabama adjusted, as quarterback A.J. McCarron connected with Kenny Bell for a seven-yard completion, part of a nine-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Alabama's first touchdown, a 2-yard pass to Michael Williams.

SWITCHED: Wauseon's Elliott Mealer started at center for the Wolverines, swapping positions with Ricky Barnum for the Alabama game. Entering the season opener, Barnum was projected as Michigan's center, while Mealer was projected at left guard.

Devin Gardner, projected as Michigan's No. 2 quarterback, opened the game at wide receiver.

HONORARY CAPTAINS: Two former coaches and two former players served as honorary captains for Michigan and Alabama Saturday.

For Michigan, former head coach Gary Moeller and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard joined Denard Robinson and Clay graduate Jordan Kovacs at the 50-yard line for the ceremonial coin flip before the start of the game, while former head coach Gene Stallings and two-time All-American linebacker Lee Roy Jordan joined Tide captains Nico Johnson, Robert Lester, and Barrett Jones.

HOUNDSTOOTH EVERYWHERE: Swatches of the ubiquitous black-and-white checkered print showed up throughout the Crimson Tide contingent, clearly in homage to legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

Some women wore houndstooth-print dresses, while others wore flip-flops with houndstooth fabric straps.

One fan even wore the houndstooth fedora trademarked by Bryant and was shown on the massive high-definition video board above the playing field at Cowboys Stadium. However, it was a bit of a fashion faux pas -- the fan paired it with crimson-and-cream striped overalls.



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