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Top-ranked Crimson Tide takes on Duke

Published 7:56am Saturday, September 18, 2010

After missing the first two weeks of the season, two of the Crimson Tide’s best players return to the field today at Duke.

Running back Mark Ingram, who has been out with a knee injury bolsters an offense that has averaged 36 points per game while defensive lineman Marcell Dareus returns from an NCAA suspension to help the Alabama defense slow a Duke offense that has averaged 44.5 points per game.

The Alabama offense has benefited from steady play from quarterback Greg McElroy, who has completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 447 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Trent Richardson has picked up the slack during Ingram’s absence to rush for 210 yards and three touchdowns on only 32 carries.

Attempting to stop the Crimson Tide offense is the Duke defense led by Matt Daniels, who leads team with 15 tackles and is tied for seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 7.5 tackles per game. He is joined by Ross Cockrell, who led the Blue Devils with 10 tackles against Wake Forest last week.

The Alabama defense will get a boost from Dareus, but if it takes him a little while to get back into the swing of things, there are other defenders that can help. Dont’a Hightower has eight tackles, while Mark Barron is third on the team with nine tackles. Barron also has a one interception and a forced fumble.

The Crimson Tide defense will be contending with an offense that ranks 15th nationally. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree has passed for at least 350 yards in both games this season and leads the ACC and is tied for seventh nationally with six touchdown passes.

His main target is Conner Vernon, who hauled in eight passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Desmond Scott leads the ACC with an average of 99.5 rushing yards per game. It is a turn around for a Blue Devil rushing attack that ranked 120th nationally with 63.5 rushing yards per game last season.

This is the fourth meeting between the two squads. Alabama leads the series 2-1.

This is the Crimson Tide’s first trip to Duke, which plays in Wallace Wade Stadium. The stadium is named after a coach that led the Crimson Tide to its first three national championships before leaving Alabama to coach the Duke program.

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