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Top 25 Preview Capsules
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The first regular-season meeting for the traditional powers provides an opening challenge for both. For defending national champion Alabama, QB A.J. McCarron has to adjust to being without top RB Trent Richardson and a pair of experienced receivers. Michigan is coming off 11 wins in its first season under Brady Hoke that was capped with a victory in the Sugar Bowl. That was the Wolverines’ first BCS bowl victory since the 2000 Orange Bowl, when they twice overcame 14-point deficits to beat Alabama 35-34 in overtime the last time they played.
Michigan dual-threat QB Denard Robinson vs. Alabama defense with some big changes. The Crimson Tide lost several talented defenders in the NFL draft, including All-America safety Mark Barron, top linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower, and both starting cornerbacks. Robinson ran for 91 yards per game with rushing TDs in 10 games, and his 15.3 yards per completed pass was the best in FBS last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alabama: LB C.J. Mosley. Has a knack for big plays, including an interception in BCS championship game before leaving with a hip injury. Could be a key force in trying to defend against Robinson.
Michigan: WR Roy Roundtree. Robinson’s most experienced receiver, coming off knee surgery, will need to create separation to help his shaky-armed quarterback. DT Will Campbell. The senior is getting a chance to anchor a defensive line that lost three starters and to prove he was worth the hype coming out of high school.
FACTS & FIGURES
Crimson Tide is 18-6 against AP Top 25 teams the past four seasons and 10-4 against those ranked in the Top 10. … Michigan has won 12 straight games in the regular season against non-conference teams and 13 in a row in September, dating back to a 35-17 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 13, 2008. … Crimson Tide RB Eddie Lacy makes his starting debut, and Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones starts his first game at center. … Alabama has been ranked in the last 65 Associated Press polls, the longest current streak. … Michigan is coming off its first season with double digits in wins since 2006.
North Texas at No. 3 LSU, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Line: LSU by 43.
Series Record: LSU leads 4-0
WHAT’S AT STAKE
LSU wants to make a second straight run at an appearance in a national championship game, and to do so will have to start strong and win convincingly against a heavy underdog such as North Texas. For the Mean Green, a competitive game would be a moral victory and provide positive momentum for a team hoping to improve on the .500 record it posted in the Sun Belt Conference last year.
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