The Alabama Crimson Tide will not escape Cowboys Stadium with a win on Saturday night unless their stars shine against a championship-caliber team in Michigan.
Alabama will be tested on both sides of the ball in Saturday's season opener. And in order to prove that they are worthy of being ranked the No. 2 program in the country, they must pass that test.
Let's take a closer look at the Crimson Tide stars who must shine for Alabama this weekend.
With Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram gone to the NFL, junior running back Eddie Lacy will get his chance to shine against Michigan on Saturday night. Similar to Richardson and Ingram, Lacy is a sturdy back who thrives after contact.
At 6'1" and 220 pounds, Lacy is a load to bring down and poised for success in 'Bama's power running game. The Tide's second-leading rusher in 2011, Lacy has plenty of experience in big-time games and has no excuse to look flustered or rattled on Saturday night.
Lacy has rushed for 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last two seasons in Alabama.
Senior safety Robert Lester will have to stay disciplined as the last line of defense against Michigan's potent offensive attack, which is led by dual threat quarterback Denard Robinson.
Lester has 10 interceptions over the last two seasons in Tuscaloosa and boasts a 6'2" frame that allows him to cover a lot of ground and challenge taller wide receivers.
With Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint suspended for Saturday's matchup, the Wolverines will likely try to move the ball through the air against Lester and the Crimson Tide secondary.
The senior will need to be on top of his game this weekend, batting balls away and making sure Robinson and the Michigan playmakers stay in front of him.
Which player is most vital to Bama's success?
The key for junior quarterback A.J. McCarron on Saturday night will not be to match Robinson play for play, but rather control the tempo for the Crimson Tide's offense and make the most of his play-action pass attempts.
The 6'4" signal-caller came into his own during the BCS National Championship Game last January against LSU, completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards. In that game McCarron's longest pass was a 26-yard completion.
Once again, Alabama won't need any highlight reel plays from McCarron on Saturday night, but it will need him to shine in the short passing game. If he can complete at least 60 percent of his throws and keep Robinson on the sideline, 'Bama will be on its way to a 1-0 start.
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