Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/26/11
AUBURN, Ala. -- They did everything they could do. Alabama put an emphatic exclamation point on their bid for another trip to the BCS Championship, and in the process, they exacted revenge on their biggest rival with a 42-14 win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It was one of the most dominating performances of the year, especially considering Auburn's two touchdowns were not against the Tide defense. One came at the end of the first quarter when Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier blindsided Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and forced a fumble that was recovered in the end zone. The second was an 87-yard kickoff return by Onterio McCalebb to start the third quarter. Neither of those touchdowns mattered. Alabama never trailed and never appeared in danger. Nick Saban's relentless, pounding defense held the Tigers to 140 total yards of offense, the vast majority of those coming in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand. To illustrate just how lopsided this was, through three quarters, Alabama had 309 total offensive yards, 130 of those coming on the legs of Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson. Auburn had 44 yards, and only 19 passing. Richardson finished with 203 yards, many of those coming with multiple Auburn defenders hanging on for the ride. He looked like the reincarnation of Earl Campbell, at one point carrying nine Auburn defenders an extra five yards before finally going down. "To me Trent Richardson is the best football player in the country," Saban said. "You love saying that about someone who is such a good person, who does so much to serve other people, and is such a great teammate and leader. His performance and production speaks for itself." Whether that production is enough for Richardson to take home the Heisman rests in the hands of voters, as does Alabama's hopes for another shot at LSU in the national championship game. Saban thinks his team deserves it. "All we could do was win our games," the Tide coach said. "Our players lost one football game to a very, very good team, the No. 1 team in the country right now, and we lost in overtime. Everybody has to make their own choices and decisions, but we have a wonderful team that has played some pretty dominant football this year." When asked if he thought he had one of the two best teams in the country, Saban said, "Yeah. You aren't going to get to see my vote, so now you know what it is." Lobbying may or may not help, but with the regular season over, Saban was pulling his best Jack Abramoff. "This is a tremendous conference," he said, anticipating the argument that two teams from the SEC West can't possibly be the two best in the country. "Friends I have that come here from Michigan who are Big Ten folks can't believe what they see when they come to the games here." Everyone who watches Alabama certainly comes away feeling as though they've seen something special in Richardson, who averaged 7.5 yards per touch in this game, and 6 yards a carry for the season. His 57-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter set up the Tide's final touchdown, which might be the style points they needed to stiff-arm Oklahoma State and Stanford out of the BCS. "We've got to be one of the two best teams in the country," Richardson said. "Three teams played for a spot on the national championship this weekend: us, Arkansas and LSU. You can't say we're not one of the two best in teams in the country." Saban agreed, saying, "I would be excited for our team if they got a shot to play for the National Championship. I think they deserve it." Someone else with a vested interest in the matter thinks they deserve it as well. Within minutes of the Alabama victory, LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard sent Richardson a text. It said, "See you in New Orleans." The Tide can only hope that voters agree.
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