Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Impact Players Crucial to Both Teams' Hopes in Clash

Thomas AttalCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2012

Michigan and Notre Dame fight for the ball.
Michigan and Notre Dame fight for the ball.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play host to the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday in a matchup of Top 20 teams that is filled to the brim with history and BCS implications.

Football is a game played by teams, but those teams are made up of individuals. If all goes well, the better teams usually come away with the win.

But big plays from impact players make the difference.

On Saturday, both teams will need their stars to perform. 


Denard Robinson 

Robinson started his season against the crushing Alabama Crimson Tide defense, yet his statistics are still impressive. 

Through three games, Robinson has thrown for 699 yards, six touchdowns and has a QB rating of 148.7. He has also rushed at least 10 times in each game for a total of 351 yards and four touchdowns. He is absolutely vital to the team's success and is among the most explosive players in the nation.

Unfortunately for Michigan, he has also thrown four interceptions and is completing only 54.7 percent of his passes.  Michigan will need their star quarterback to avoid mistakes in order to come away with the win. 


Fitzgerald Toussaint

Robinson can't do it alone. For Michigan to get their offense rolling, which is an absolute necessity, Toussaint will need to contribute and keep the load of the offense off of Robinson's shoulders.

Following his suspension, Toussaint managed to run for 85 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Massachusetts. He will have to do at least that well if he wants to help his team rise back up the rankings after the loss to Alabama.


Theo Riddick

 Notre Dame's offense has been lethal thus far. That is in large part to Riddick.

In three games, Riddick has run for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries. The running game is essential to the Fighting Irish offense, so having Riddick maintain his 4.1 yards per carry will be crucial.

Furthermore, if Riddick is running well he will open up room for George Atkinson III, which would cause a nightmare for Michigan.


Manti Te'o

 Te'o will be of great help to his team just by playing. Following a week filled with personal tragedies, Te'o has opted to respond by taking the field against Michigan anyway. 

Te'o leads the team with 18 tackles and has also added an interception and a fumble recovery. But it's more than just his stats that will be meaningful to Notre Dame this week. He is an experienced linebacker, and he will inspire his teammates on every play.

Notre Dame's defense has been superb all year and will need to continue to do so against the Wolverines. It starts with Te'o.