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July 20, 2012Michigan coach Brady Hoke will take the stand at Big Ten football media days next week, where he will undoubtedly field questions about the Wolverines' upcoming showdown against Alabama, the defending national champions.
Crimson Tide Nick Saban has already been through the onslaught.
At his press conference session at this week's SEC media days, Saban fielded a few questions about the Maize And Blue.
The two teams - both of which are among the most storied in the history of the sport - will square off in a nationally televised opening weekend night game, Sept. 1.
Saban, who served as Michigan State's head coach from 1995-99 and compiled a 2-3 record against the Wolverines, was very complimentary of the U-M program.
"I think playing a great opponent like Michigan the first game of the season really enhances your players' sort of work ethic and preparation in the off-season because they know they're going to play a top-notch team right off the bat, and that's very challenging," Saban said at SEC media days. "That's kind of been the reasoning behind it.
"We know that Michigan is going to have an outstanding team and it will be a very challenging game for us this year."
The Crimson Tide has made a point of putting a marquee game on the nonconference slate during Saban's tenure.
"We've had a lot of national exposure that has really enhanced the development of our program, especially in the early years, by playing neutral-site games against very good national competition, whether it was Florida State in Jacksonville our first year, Clemson in Atlanta, or Virginia Tech in Atlanta, Penn State home and home the last couple years," Saban said. "Now having the opportunity to go play Michigan in Dallas these are the kind of games we look for for national exposure."
And Alabama has done well in those national-exposure games. In Saban's first year at the helm, Florida State bested the Tide, 21-14, but Alabama has won every other game Saban mentioned at media days.
In 2008, the Crimson Tide crushed Clemson in a neutral-site game, 34-10, on its way to a 12-2 season. The next year, they beat the Hokies, 34-24 on the opening weekend, eventually finishing the year 14-0.
In the last two seasons, they've toppled Penn State by a combined score of 51-14.
Alabama has faced the Wolverines three times in program history, all three in bowl games.
Michigan holds a 2-1 advantage in the series, winning 35-34 (OT) in the 2000 Orange Bowl and 28-24 in the 1988 Hall Of Fame Bowl. The Tide beat the Wolverines 17-14 in the 1997 Outback Bowl.