Kicking off with a bang

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As if the Crimson Tide didn't have enough inspiration to defend its national title, they get thrown right into the fire against the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines to start the season.

After months of hitting each other in practice and praying for the season to start, the time for kickoff is here. The time to figure out who the Crimson Tide will become in 2012 starts with a battle of top-10 teams on Saturday.

"I think everyone is a little tired of practicing against each other," Alabama coach Nick Saban said on Wednesday. "It's time to sort of see where we're at, regardless of how we do in the game. We know what we need to do, to work on to improve. I don't worry so much with this team about the character, the attitude, the way they're going to go out there and try and compete. But the experience that we have on the field, the leadership, the intangibles, those things are just going to have to grow with this team. We're going to have to play well enough and have enough leadership to have a resiliency to overcome anything that happens."