Pitches similar, pitchmen differ

The last time Alabama and Michigan met on the field was Jan. 1, 2000, in the Orange Bowl. The Wolverines prevailed, 35-34 in overtime, when Tide kicker Ryan Pflugner missed an extra-point attempt.

But in truth Alabama and Michigan, who will meet in the season opener on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium, have battled several times since -- on the recruiting trail. Top programs often are chasing the same top prospects. Because of it, recruiting battles play out and act as precursors to what could happen on the field.

Three years ago, with Michigan struggling under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines couldn't capture that talent. As a result, Michigan lost recruits to coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban, USC's Pete Carroll and Ohio State's Jim Tressel.