We are roughly two days away from the big Michigan and Alabama matchup taking place.
The game is receiving a ton of hype, but many don't believe the Wolverines have a chance whatsoever to walk away with a victory.
It seems like everybody is predicting the Tide to win this game pretty convincingly. Even Vegas has the Wolverines as nearly two touchdown favorites.
Alabama has lost many key contributors from a year ago, but with 12 starters returning, sleeping on this football team is really not the thing to do.
Nick Saban's club is once again considered a national championship contender and has many great players on both sides of the ball.
Here are five players that Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines are paying extra attention to ahead of this weekend’s matchup.
First-round picks are tough to replace, but when you are a school like Alabama, it is a little easier to deal with when you recruit like Nick Saban does.
Safety Mark Barron was taken with the seventh overall pick last season in the NFL draft, which gives Vinnie Sunseri the privilege of replacing the guy who was second on the team in tackles in 2011.
Sunseri was a freshman last season, spending most of his time on special teams and finishing second on the team with 11 special teams tackles. He is almost the same size as Barron was at 6'0" and 215 pounds, has great football instincts and is a tackling machine.
Throughout fall camp, he was always one of the top tacklers of the day.
The sky is the limit for the sophomore safety, and with his skill set, I expect him to become a difference maker on this Crimson Tide defense starting Week 1.
First it was Mark Ingram, and then it was Trent Richardson.
Eddie Lacy now has a chance to be the next great back for this blessed Alabama program. While Richardson may be the most complete back of the three, Lacy is no slouch entering the 2012 season.
He has great size at 6'1" and 220 pounds and is able to carry the load whenever called upon.
He may not be the fastest back in the SEC, but for somebody his size, he will surprise you with his quickness. As a backup over the last two seasons, Lacy has averaged over seven yards per carry and has scored 13 touchdowns on just 151 touches.
The junior running back may not be a household name like those who came before him, but this is his chance to introduce himself to the rest of the college football world.
With the offensive line that will be blocking for him, I see a tough night ahead for this Michigan defense.
At 6'4" and 320 pounds, Jesse Williams will move from defensive end to a more comfortable position at nose tackle this year.
When you are that big and this strong, being in the middle of the defensive line is probably the best place to be.
Williams is from Australia and only began playing football at the age of 15. However, with his size, strength and athleticism, it's clear that this guy has the tools to become great—and soon.
Michigan lost a couple of offensive lineman during the offseason, including Rimington Award winner David Molk, which can't be good news when having to block somebody like this.
Williams will require two people to block on most plays, which will free up the experienced defensive ends that are coming off the edge.
Look out, Denard Robinson!
I have no idea which Alabama quarterback we are going to see this season.
A.J. McCarron was allowed to throw the ball over 30 times just twice in the regular season, but against the LSU Tigers in the national championship, he threw the ball 34 times and completed 67.6 percent of his passes.
He also made it a point to pick on Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu, often completing first downs right over his head. For the first time all year, McCarron looked like he could actually become one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country if he can continue to improve his craft.
The LSU Tigers were ranked eighth in the country last season in passing yards allowed, and McCarron just broke down that secondary all night long.
Although Michigan returns all of its starters in the defensive backfield from a year ago, this is a quarterback that you have to be prepared for heading into the big matchup.
I'm cheating a little bit here by giving an entire unit some love.
I could have simply listed center Barrett Jones, but this Alabama offensive line is so great that the entire group deserves be mentioned.
Jones is the most well-known on the unit, is considered by many to be the best lineman in the country and has some believing he deserves a little Heisman consideration. However, fellow starters D.J. Fluker, Anthony Steen, Chance Warmack and Cyrus Kouandjio are all experienced players and make you wonder how anybody is going to beat this group.
Will anybody ever be able to get to A.J. McCarron this year?
If you think I'm giving a little too much credit, just ask Michigan head coach Brady Hoke (via The Washington Post).
“I’m a defensive coach and watching that offensive line, that’s as good an offensive line as I’ve seen in college football,” Hoke said.
With the Wolverines' issues on the defensive line, getting pressure on McCarron or not being able to slow down the running game has to be keeping this Michigan coaching staff up all night.