After months of rumors and speculation, the Michigan-Alabama game in Dallas to open the 2012 season has officially been announced. Here is an excerpt from the press release sent out by Michigan:
The University of Michigan football team will face the University Alabama in the 2012 College Football Kick-off Event at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 1, 2012. The game will be televised nationally in prime time.
"This is a great way to kick off the 2012 season with two of the nation's winningest college football programs," said U-M director of athletics Dave Brandon. "We are excited about playing a regular-season game in the state of Texas, a region of the country where we have traditionally recruited. Our goal is to get as many Michigan fans to the game as possible to witness this match-up of traditional powers."
The Wolverines will be the away team with the Crimson Tide designated the home team. The game officials will be a crew from the Big 12 Conference. This will be the fourth time in school history that Michigan faces Alabama, and it will be the first contest played during the regular season by the two programs.
The previous three matchups between Michigan and Alabama all occurred in bowl games, with Michigan winning the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 2000 Orange Bowl. Alabama beat the Wolverines in the 1997 Outback Bowl.
Michigan's 2012 schedule is now two games away from being complete. The Wolverines have three open dates (Sept. 8, Sept. 15 and Sept. 29) for two non-conference matchups at home. Florida Atlantic was rumored as a possible opponent in 2012, but so far nothing official has come of that.
With a neutral-site game thrown into the mix, Michigan will actually only end up having a total of six home games during the 2012 season. Michigan hasn't had fewer than seven home games since 2004, when there were only 11 total games on the regular season schedule. Under Bill Martin, the attitude was to get as many home games as possible, but Dave Brandon is obviously willing to pass up a home game in order to be on a national stage down in Dallas against Alabama. Personally, I would have rather just done a home and home with 'Bama, but there's no doubt kicking off the 2012 season down in Dallas will be very cool.