Dee Milliner and that Alabama defense showed they can still dominate.
Even after sending three starting defenders from last year's national championship team to the NFL as first-round draft picks, the second-ranked Crimson Tide threw around eighth-ranked Michigan while pounding Denard Robinson in a season-opening 41-14 victory Saturday night.
C.J. Mosley returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown for the Tide. AJ McCarron, no longer with third overall draft pick Trent Richardson to hand the ball off to, threw two touchdowns as Alabama won its 11th consecutive season opener.
Milliner, the primary nickelback last season now in a starting role, deflected four passes in the first half, and had an interception after shoving intended receiver Roy Roundtree to the ground and into the Alabama sideline. That set up a touchdown for the Crimson Tide, which shot out to a 31-0 lead.
While Michigan still can recover to contend for a Big Ten title and possible Rose Bowl bid, this could be a confidence-shaking performance. It certainly wasn't what Michigan expected coming off an 11-win season under first-year coach Brady Hoke that ended with the Wolverines' first BCS victory since the 1999 season.
They were without suspended running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark, but even with them probably weren't ready for the toughest of tests.
Unfortunately for Hoke and the Wolverines, this is Alabama — still at its very best.
Even coach Nick Saban was applauding the performance as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
McCarron was 11 of 21 passing for 199 yards. Freshman T.J. Yeldon ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while Eddie Lacy had a 9-yard TD run.
It was a tough night for Robinson, even though he accounted for both Michigan touchdowns. Most of his 200 yards passing (he was 11 of 26) came on two plays — a 71-yard pass right before halftime that came before his 6-yard TD run and his 44-yard scoring pass to Devin Gardner in the third quarter.
Robinson, held to 27 yards rushing on 10 carries, showed his toughness when he didn't miss a snap after being hurt on a fourth-down run in the third quarter.
He was back in the Michigan huddle after Cade Foster kicked a 51-yard field goal.