Trent Richardson was the best running back in college football this season, and he'll be the best player on the field when his Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the LSU Tigers in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.
There are number of talented players and future NFL stars for both LSU and Alabama, namely Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne, and Rueben Randle for the Tigers, and Dont'a Hightower, Mark Barron, and Courtney Upshaw for the Crimson Tide. However, the most skilled player and most likely future Pro Bowler is Richardson.
Here are the 10 best runs from the Alabama tailback's career in Tuscaloosa to get your ready for the show he's certain to put on in the Superdome.
This run came against the rival Auburn Tigers in this year's regular season finale for the Alabama Crimson Tide on November 26th. Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards on the day.
In this run in the fourth quarter, Richardson was provided with a huge hole on the left side of the line which he burst through. Just as he appears to be running out of room along the sideline, he throws Auburn safety Neiko Thorpe out of bounds, using the momentum to cut back upfield after somehow slipping between two Tiger defenders.
Once he's into the clear, he runs for another 35 yards before running out of gas and getting cornered by a group of Auburn Tigers.
This is one of the best runs I've ever seen in college football. At the beginning, Trent Richardson is facing three Mississippi Rebels without a blocker. He stutter-steps around the first, before sprinting between the other two as they collide with each other like Charlie Chaplin villains.
Once into the open field, he shows his vision with a sharp cut to the right which gets him into the clear around midfield. A few seconds later it appears as if he's about to be run out of bounds around the 20-yard line, but he breaks cornerback Senquez Golson ankles with a stop-and-go, and then drags a helpless Frank Crawford into the end zone.
In this third quarter run, Richardson helped the Alabama Crimson Tide increase their lead to 31-7. This was the fourth rushing touchdown (a career high) Richardson had on the day.
This one is just pure speed. At this point in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, the Alabama Crimson Tide offense had been mostly stagnant against the Texas Longhorns.
Trent Richardson took the handoff from Greg McElroy and shot through the middle of the Longhorns defensive line. Not only did he go untouched, he was almost never within 10 yards of the nearest defender.
This 49-yard touchdown broke things open for the Crimson Tide, who would score 10 more points before halftime and take an insurmountable 24-6 lead.
Freshman aren't supposed to be able to do these things. In just his fourth game as a college running back with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Trent Richardson busted this 52-yard touchdown run.
The play looks doomed at the beginning when three Arkansas Razorbacks penetrated the offensive line. Richardson is forced to bounce it out to the right, and that's where the magic happens. He breaks four separate tackles before finally escaping the mass of Hogs.
Once he's in the clear, it's all over. Despite the fact that the last Razorback defender has an angle on him, Richardson is able to sprint straight down the sideline for the last forty yards of the run.
Before this run, the Crimson Tide had been unable to get anything going on offense. After a scoreless quarter and a half, Richardson's touchdown helped spur Alabama towards a big 35-7 win.
OK, technically this is a reception. But the run after the catch is what's impressive.
Facing the best defense in the country (besides his own), Trent Richardson makes two LSU Tigers defenders look stupid.
First he sweeps safety Eric Reid (a talented player who ended up being the hero of the game with his interception in the end zone) aside, before juking the other safety Brandon Taylor so badly he ended up on the ground.
The Alabama Crimson Tide of course lost this No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup, but not because of Richardson, who had 89 rushing and 80 receiving yards on the night.
In 2010, just a year after needing Terrence Cody to block a last-second field goal in order to beat Tennessee, the Alabama Crimson Tide were struggling with the Volunteers again.
At halftime, Alabama only had a 13-10 lead. But consecutive touchdown runs by Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson paved the way for a 41-point blowout victory for the Crimson Tide in the second half.
On this Richardson run, he just makes two cuts and then it's 65 yards to paydirt. Richardson rushed for 119 yards against Tennessee in 2010, which was one of only two 100+ yard rushing games he had all season.
Like many of the runs on this list, this one against the Florida Gators earlier this season helped the Alabama Crimson Tide break a game open.
With 12 minutes left in the game and Alabama only holding a 14 point lead, the Gators were still in the thick of things. And on the 36-yard line, the Alabama was just outside of field goal range. On a huge third down, Richardson exploded through a hole, went right around safety Josh Evans, and walked into the end zone to seal the win for the Crimson Tide.
This run was just a small but important part of the 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns Richardson had in the game.
This one's not a run from scrimmage, but it's a run, and a heck of a run at that.
The 91-yard kickoff return for Trent Richardson came in the Alabama Crimson Tide's game against the Duke Blue Devils last season. The Tide put it on the Blue Devils in Durham, winning 62-13.
On this return, Richardson initially fumbles the ball at his own four. Once he recovers it, he is forced to run laterally to the right to avoid the gunners. He shows his vision and balance by making two hard cuts across the middle of the field in rapid succession before escaping a shoestring tackle.
Once he's out in the open, the last 50 yards are a breeze. Incidentally, this is the only kickoff return touchdown of Richardson's career at Alabama. Richardson has not returned kicks for most of the season (probably to avoid injury), but he did against the LSU Tigers the first time around, so we may see him get a chance to score in the return game in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.
This one may not be as exciting as some of the others, and the San Jose State Spartans are certainly not a tough opponent, but it's still a great run.
It perhaps showcases Richardson's patience and vision better than any others on this list. It's a designed sweep to the right, and the offensive line creates a hole, but once Richardson approaches it, there are a number of Spartans in front of him.
Instead of trying to go around the edge or lowering his head and settling for a 10-yard gain, Richardson waits for his blockers to get upfield, cuts back, and is subsequently sprung for a 39-yard touchdown run.
Like the earlier play against the LSU Tigers, this is a pass, but once again the run after the catch is what makes the play.
With the Alabama Crimson Tide enjoying a 17-point lead over the No. 14 Arkansas Razorbacks, AJ McCarron throws a screen pass to Trent Richardson, and then Richardson does the rest.
First he escapes an arm tackle from linebacker Jerry Franklin, then in a flash he slips between defensive end Trey Flowers and cornerback Tevin Mitchel and is flying downfield. Like the aforementioned LSU highlight, this play from the Arkansas game this season highlights Richardson's ability to make things happen in the passing game.