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October 26, 2012TideSports.com takes a closer look the players who are expected to have a big impact when the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs face off in Tuscaloosa.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Height: 6-3 Weight: 245 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Johnson has made 30 total tackles , broken up a pass, forced a fumble and produced a quarterback hurry for UA.
Buzz: Johnson will be called upon to be an enforcer in this game, providing run support to keep the Bulldogs from breaking loose for big plays. He will need to maintain the kind of assignment discipline that is key to Nick Saban's defensive approach and make Mississippi State earn every yard it gets. UA can't afford missed tackles, and Johnson is sound.
Position: Nose guard
Height: 6-4 Weight: 320 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Williams has made 13 total tackles, but he has also breached the backfield for three quarterback hurries and batted down a pass. And if you didn't know, he has bench pressed 600 pounds.
Buzz: Alabama's Australian sensation may not have a lot of tackles, but that's not really his job. Williams impacts opposing running games by commanding double-team blocks, and that's what he is going to have to do against this Mississippi State team. UA needs to clog up the ground attack to slow the Bulldogs.
Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 Class: Junior
Key Stat: McCarron has passed for almost 1,500 yards with 16 touchdowns and not a single interception. He has completed 68.8 percent of his passes, an impressive feat for someone not playing in a quick-pass spread offensive system.
Buzz: McCarron has played his way onto most everyone's Heisman Trophy watch list, so you should probably keep an eye on him, too. McCarron seems increasingly comfortable in the pocket and has been able to stretch the field with more downfield passing of late.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Height: 6-4 Weight: 220 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Russell has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,573 yards and just one interception, adding an aerial element to Mississippi State's offense.
Buzz: Russell has been better in SEC play, connecting at a 63-percent rate for 782 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception over thre games. Alabama will want to shut down MSU's ground attack and put pressure on Russell. Mississippi State's quarterback will need a big game to keep the Bulldogs in it.
Position: Running back
Height: 5-10 Weight: 190 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Perkins leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing at 103.4 yards per game. He is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has scored eight touchdowns.
Buzz: Perkins is probably the best running back most people haven't heard of, but a big game against Alabama would put him in the spotlight. MSU's rushing attack is similar to what Florida ran under Urban Meyer, with a lot of east-to-west plays that end up turning upfield for big yardage, but Perkins is also effective between the tackles.
Position: Defensive back
Height: 6-2 Weight: 185 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Banks has 16 career interceptions, second among active NCAA players, and is first among active players in career interception return yardage.
Buzz: Some cover cornerbacks don't get noticed because they just shut down their receiver and the quarterback never looks their way. Banks, however, makes a lot of noise because of his knack for picking off passes. Banks vs. AJ McCarron, who hasn't thrown an interception all year, will be an interesting matchup.