Alabama vs. Michigan: 10 Things We Hope Happen in Biggest Showdown of Week 1
The matchup we have all been waiting for is about to take place.
In just a couple of days, the Michigan Wolverines and Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Cowboys Stadium and battle it out for the best matchup in Week 1 of the college football season. Both teams will enter the matchup with a chip on their shoulder, as there is a lot to prove for both clubs, and with it being on the biggest possible stage, this is must-see television.
Week 1 of the regular season is usually filled with powerhouses beating up on cupcakes, but this is the game that everybody has had circled on their calendar since the schedule was released months ago.
Here are 10 things that all college football fans should be hoping for in this big matchup.
Fitzgerald Toussaint Plays
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Fitzgerald Toussaint is listed as the starting running back on the Michigan depth chart, but head coach Brady Hoke remains quiet on whether his star running back will play this weekend. Toussaint was arrested and charged with a DUI during the offseason and has had to work his way back onto the team ever since. (He recently pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of operating while visually impaired).
Toussaint rushed for 1,041 yards last season and scored nine touchdowns on only 187 carries. He is an important piece to this offense, and it would be a shame if he is not eligible to play in this matchup.
Eddie Lacy Carries the Torch
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Speaking of running backs, everybody should keep an eye on Eddie Lacy in this game. He has been the backup the last two seasons, but with Trent Richardson now in the NFL, he will be out to prove he can carry this Alabama offense.
In two years of backup duty, Lacy has averaged seven yards a carry, rushed for 1,080 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He has all of the tools to become that next great runner for the Crimson Tide, but has not quite yet established himself outside of Tuscaloosa.
This stage would be the perfect setting for Lacy to make his name known throughout all of college football.
A.J. McCarron Builds off of the National Championship
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You remember the Week 1 matchup against Kent State last season, when A.J. McCarron threw two interceptions and was battling with Phillip Sims for the starting job?
The junior quarterback has come very far since then. He went from only being asked to throw the ball a couple times a drive to completing 67 percent of his passes against the LSU Tigers defense in the national championship game.
We still aren't quite sure which McCarron we are going to see this season, but it would be nice to see Alabama have a reliable quarterback to match that deadly rushing attack.
Roy Roundtree Is 100 Percent
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Michigan does not have much experience at the wide receiver position so Roy Roundtree is vital to this Wolverines offense. In three years of playing time, Roundtree has 123 receptions for 1,724 yards and 12 touchdowns.
And while he will be expected to step up this year, he is fresh off surgery on his knee that he suffered in the beginning of fall camp. There are reports that say he is fine and will be healthy enough to start in the season opener, but knee injuries are something serious, and you never know until that player takes the field in a live game before you know just how healthy he is.
There is a possibility that Michigan will already be without Toussaint; losing another starter on offense would crush this Wolverine team.
Defensive Linemen Step Up
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Two players on the defensive side of the ball to keep an eye on are Jesse Williams of Alabama and William Campbell of Michigan.
Williams enters his second season at Alabama and will be the starting nose tackle for the Crimson Tide. For somebody who is 6'4", 320 pounds, he is extremely athletic and is already receiving a buzz as being one of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Campbell, on the other hand, was a former 5-star recruit, but throughout his career at Ann Arbor has not produced like it. However, word around camp is that he is in much better shape and should have his best season at Michigan.
These are two linemen that have the potential to have great seasons for their respective programs; hopefully they can deliver.
A Clean Game
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Is there anything worse than a great matchup being slowed down by referees who just can't seem to keep their flag in their pocket? Dear refs, we are here to watch the players play the game, not to see you leave your dirty laundry all over the field.
Good news is that both of these teams are well coached and finished in the top five last season in average penalty yardage a game.
T.J. Yeldon Sees the Field Early and Often
I know we talked about Eddie Lacy a few slides back, but freshman T.J. Yeldon is name that you will know by the end of the season. He is arguably the most complete back from the 2012 class and has that speed that every college football fan loves to see on the field.
Most Alabama fans already know who he is because of the fabulous spring game performance he had that made Crimson Tide fans instantly fall in love. Now is his chance to prove that he is the real deal in the biggest game of the Week 1 schedule.
Yeldon is listed as the backup behind Lacy, but this explosive back is sure to be included in this offense quite a bit in 2012.
Denard Robinson Plays Well
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Whether you are a fan of the Michigan Wolverines, everybody likes quarterback Denard Robinson.
He is one of the more exciting players in the country and always leaves you without a least one play where you cannot believe what you just saw. In each of the last two seasons, Robinson has thrown for over 2,000 yards and rushed for 1,000, while scoring 65 total touchdowns throughout his career. He isn't the best pure passer in the world, but is able to create plays with his athleticism when nothing is there.
Robinson has been a Heisman candidate the last two seasons, but has failed to seal the deal due to his costly turnover margin. Hopefully, the senior quarterback can play a great game and leave an early impression on the Heisman voters.
We Get a Close Game...
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Last year's big Week 1 game was the Oregon Ducks taking on the LSU Tigers. Much like this matchup, we heard about the contest weeks in advance, as it was supposed to be one of the best college football games of the year.
LSU ended up winning the game by a score of 40-27 and it really wasn't even that close. Oregon could not get going offensively, the Tigers had their way with the Ducks all night and running back LaMichael James was nonexistent.
While many believe that Alabama is going to steamroll Michigan, hopefully we end up getting a close game. And if we're lucky enough, it will include...
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Maybe I'm reaching here?
But seriously, is there anything better in college football than the overtime process? I love the fact that it gives both teams a chance to score and the idea that the game could last forever. It's like Monopoly, just better.
The possibility of this game going into overtime is highly unlikely, but it is something worth hoping for. Both of these squads enter the season as Top 10 teams in the polls, and both not only have conference championship goals, but are hoping to reach BCS bowls once again.
With so much on the line this early in the season, there is only one way to end this game properly and that is with more football.