After a great college football season, the BCS National Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama is here. And while it's sure to be a great defensive battle, offense could be the true difference-maker.
Both teams play dominating defense, and this is sure to be a low-scoring affair. But at some point someone does have to score.
That's where these impact offensive stars will make a difference.
Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame
Notre Dame isn't a great offensive team, but they run the ball fairly well. The Irish rank 29th in the FBS with 202.5 rushing yards a game.
That ground game flows through running back Theo Riddick, who led Notre Dame in rushing yards (880) and touchdowns (six; five rushing, one receiving) this season.
Unfortunately, he has the tough task of facing Alabama's No. 1-ranked rushing defense.
For the Fighting Irish to have any ability to score on offense, they have to find a way to run the ball. That makes Riddick absolutely vital in tonight's game.
Barrett Jones, Center, Alabama
Alabama sports a solid offensive line, and they'll be crucial for a Tide victory. Leading them into tonight's game is center Barrett Jones.
The Tide have the unpleasant task of facing Notre Dame's solid pass rush, which has accumulated 34 sacks with an average of 6.9 yards lost per sack.
It will be up to Jones to keep his line focused and solidified tonight. If they can't protect their quarterback—and help support the ground game—Alabama will go nowhere on offense.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish don't do a lot with the pass, and its effectiveness will have a huge impact in this game.
But it won't be quarterback Everett Golson that makes the difference for Notre Dame. Instead it'll be his receivers, namely tight end Tyler Eifert.
Eifert led the Irish in receiving yards this season with 624, and had four touchdown receptions. He averages 14.2 yards per catch.
While 'Bama has a solid secondary, they've yet to face a lot of effective tight ends this season. If they're not prepared to cover one, Eifert could have a huge game for the Irish.
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Alabama can push the ball on the ground, but running back Eddie Lacy won't be the saving grace in this game. That spot is reserved for quarterback A.J. McCarron.
McCarron has been solid all season long, passing for 2,669 yards with 26 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
One of Alabama's strategies has to be dulling the effectiveness of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. And seeing that Te'o makes his bread and butter with interceptions (he has seven on the season) McCarron's accuracy will be key.
As long as he plays mistake-free, McCarron should have a solid game for the Tide.