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Story Archives: Who will make biggest impact
|Who will make biggest impact|
By Jake Martin
LSU and Alabama are days away from taking the field in one of the most anticipated games in college football history, but which players will impact the game the most?
As a die-hard college football fan and SEC football fan, I feel like this game is one of a lifetime.
It might be crazy or it might be sad, but I eat, sleep and breath college football, and this is anything but an ordinary game. College football has the best regular season in all of sports, which means this game will be the pinnacle of sports.
From the SEC Media Days over the summer to the blow-outs and heart-pounding moments throughout the season, it all leads to this. Two undefeated SEC West rivals battling it out in a No. 1 vs. No.2 matchup in prime time.
The world will be watching, so what players will step up and defy limitations in this game for the ages? These are the Top 10 players who will have the largest impact on the "Game of the Century."
Brad Wing - Whoever wins the field position battle will most likely win this game, and this is where Wing's skills come to play. Wing is one of the best punters in the country and has a knack for pinning opponents down inside the 20-yard line.
Mo Claiborne - He's one of the premiere cornerbacks in the nation, and he's a dangerous return man as well. Claiborne has the potential to be a difference-maker, whether it's in the return game or making a crucial interception.
A.J. McCarron - It's no secret that Alabama is a run first team, but A.J. McCarron has played dividends in Alabama's success this year. He's thrown 10 touchdowns while completing 67% of his stats.
Brandon Taylor - He doesn't get the publicity that Tyrann Mathieu and Mo Claiborne get, but he's the glue of the secondary. He's been huge this year and leads the team in tackles. Look for Taylor to come up big one more time in this crucial game.
Mark Barron - LSU will try to draw Mark Barron and Robert Lester up to the line of scrimmage with their running game, so these safeties have to play assignment football. With that said, Barron is a physical safety, and he'll have to lower the boom on LSU's running backs once they hit the second level.
Football is a game that is won in the trenches, and the battle up front couldn't be any more important than the matchup on Nov. 5.
Barrett Jones is one of the most talented offensive lineman in the nation, and he's going to have his hands full Saturday. LSU has both speed and athleticism upfront, and Jones and the offensive line are going to have to use their power and strength to clear holes for Trent Richardson. This is one of the most important matchups of the game.
He doesn't get the publicity that Barkevious "KeKe" Mingo and Sam Montgomery with good reason, but he has played at a high level and needs to maintain that against Alabama.
With how strong Alabama is up front and Trent Richardson breaking tackles left and right, Brockers will have to provide a solid wall for the Tigers.
If this game is as tightly contested as everyone is predicting, special teams could play a huge factor in this game, and Marquis Maze is deadly in the return game.
Not only is he great at returning punts, but he's also a valuable piece to Alabama passing game. He leads the team in receiving yards with 484 and has a touchdown to his credit.
If Maze can make a couple of guys miss after a Brad Wing punt, Maze could easily be high-stepping into the end zone this Saturday night.
Ryan Baker is a somewhat undersized linebacker, but he's going to have to play like a man possessed against the rushing game of Alabama.
Behind Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, Alabama possesses the ability to pound defenses to death. Baker, Kevin Minter and Karnell Hatcher are going to have to come up big and shut down that lethal rushing attack.
Spencer Ware is LSU's equivalent to Alabama's Richardson. Sure he's not as talented as Richardson, but Ware packs quite a punch when he runs the football.
Alabama's rush defense is like trying to run through a brick wall, but Ware is going to have to soften that wall up. Ware leads the Tigers in rushing yards with 512 yards and has scored on six different occasions.
The Tigers need Ware to come up big and carry the ball close to 20 times and run the ball with that same physical nature he's shown all season.
When it comes to versatility, there may not be a more versatile player on the field than Courtney Upshaw.
Upshaw is a linebacker who plays as a down lineman in some of Kirby Smart and Nick Saban's schemes. Upshaw is a talented pass rusher that time and time again tackles backs behind the line of scrimmage.
Upshaw is third on the team in tackles for the Crimson Tide and will receive plenty of attention from the Tigers on gameday.
He's the leader of the Alabama defense, and he's one of the best linebackers in the country. Need I say his name?
Dont'a Hightower leads the Tide in tackles with 48 and has an interception this season as well. I can't wait to see Hightower and Ware go blow-for-blow over the duration of the game.
The same guy that threw four interceptions in a 27-21 overtime loss to Alabama is going to get his chance for redemption when the lights are shining brightest.
Lee has played beyond my wildest imaginations this season, as he has completed 63% of his passes and thrown for 13 touchdowns with only one interception.
Like I said, beyond my imagination. He's thrown touchdowns this year, but more importantly he's taken care of the football. This will be the toughest defense he will face in his collegiate career, and he's going to have to do everything he can to continue to take good care of the football. Life is all about second chances, and Lee gets his second chance in the biggest college football game of the season.
The honey badger takes what he wants, when he wants, and there may never come a more opportune time to create havoc on defense.
Mathieu has made a career off of creating turnovers and turning them into touchdowns, and in the game featuring the two top defenses in the nation, turnovers will be key.
Mathieu has four forced fumbles and two interceptions on the year and had people campaigning for him to win the Heisman before getting "suspended" for the Auburn game two weeks ago. If Mathieu wants to state his claim as the best defensive player in college football, what better game to state his claim that this monumental showdown.
With the way Trent Richardson has played this season, it would be a crime to not have him No. 1 on this list.
He's the best running back in the nation, and he's one of the best players college football has to offer.
Richardson has rushed for over 1,000 yards and has 17 rushing touchdowns this season including the touchdown run in which he nearly broke Ole Miss' Senquez Golson's ankle.
In a game that's filled with multiple impact players, Richardson stands out the most among the pack.
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