While football is a team game, the end result always comes down to individual matchups.
Whether it's an offensive lineman unable to keep pressure off of his quarterback, a cornerback who can't handle the size and physicality of a receiver, or a linebacker who can't shed blocks and get to the ball carrier, every player on the field must win their individual battle for their team to have success.
It's true in any game, regardless of what the stakes may be.
And the stakes don't get any higher than in the BCS National Championship game on Monday night between the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide.
Let's take a look at some of the key matchups that will go a long way toward determining who the next National Champion will be.
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix vs. Alabama C Barrett Jones
Going up against Notre Dame's 6'3", 326 lbs junior nose tackle Louis Nix is hard enough to do when you're healthy, much less when you're injured.
Alabama center Barrett Jones gets to try his luck at the latter, as the All-American will play in the BCS National Championship game despite an injured left foot that he suffered against Georgia in the SEC Championship game last month (h/t ESPN).
Nix is a disruptive force, recording 45 tackles (5.5 for loss) and two sacks, knocking down five passes and forcing a fumble along the way.
Nix is going to look to take advantage of Jones' injury, and whoever wins this battle at the point of attack will go a long way toward dictating how effectively Alabama can run the ball against a staunch Notre dame defense.
Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert vs. Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
At 6'6", 250 lbs, Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert is a nightmare matchup for defenders.
Too big for a cornerback to cover and too quick for most linebackers, Eifert is going to be targeted early and often by Notre Dame QB Everett Golson in the passing game.
The responsibility of covering Eifert will fall on the shoulders of Alabama's junior linebacker C.J. Mosley, a tackling machine with 99 tackles on the season.
While not as prolific at the art of dropping back into coverage as his counterpart on Notre Dame, Manti Te'o, Mosley has the ability to disrupt the passing game, as evidenced by his pair of interceptions on the season.
If Mosley is able to neutralize Eifert, it takes one of Notre Dame's biggest threats in the passing game out of the equation. Should Eifert find success early, not only will Notre Dame continue to throw him the ball, but it will force Alabama to pay more attention to the pass, opening things up on the ground.
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson vs. Alabama CB Dee Milliner
Alabama is going to try and mix things up defensively to confuse Notre Dame's freshman quarterback, but Golson's ability to tuck the ball under his arm and take off running is something that the Crimson Tide must be mindful of.
Alabama's Dee Milliner, who very well might be the first cornerback taken in the 2013 NFL draft, will need to be on his toes and able to break out of coverage in a split second to help guard against Golson's dual-threat ability.
Milliner, who has 18 passes defended and a pair of interceptions on the season, needs to be all over the field for Alabama in this one, whether he is covering T.J. Jones, Eifert, stepping up to defend against the run or a dump-off pass to running backs Theo Riddick or Cierre Wood.
If Golson is able to freeze Milliner on play-action, just for a second, it will give the freshman just enough room to make a play against Alabama. If Milliner is at the top of his game, however, he could easily take advantage of Golson's inexperience and stifle the Notre Dame attack with a key turnover.