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Dr. Saturday

Superlatives: In which Trent Richardson bears ‘Bama’s burden

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

Snap judgments on Saturday's best.

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ENGINEERING • Trent Richardson, Alabama.
Elsewhere, Saturday belonged to the quarterbacks (see below). But not in Gainesville, where the Crimson Tide's marvel of modern science put the offense on his back, personally accounting for 208 of Alabama's 366 total yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 38-10 rout over Florida. Before he was pulled in the fourth quarter, Richardson further betrayed the existence of an adamantium exoskeleton and fast-healing powers by handling the ball on more than half of 'Bama's offensive snaps, including its two longest gains of the night: A 22-yard screen pass on 3rd-and-8 that set up a short, back-breaking touchdown in the second quarter in the second quarter, and a 36-yard TD run that slammed the door shut in the fourth.

CHEMISTRY • Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, USC.

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No pass-catch combo anywhere has bonded more frequently or more effectively this year than Barkley and Woods, who took advantage of the perfect conditions Saturday — namely, Arizona's beleaguered secondary — to finally explode: Barkley found Woods 14 times for a career-high 255 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yard streak on USC's second snap of the game en route to a 48-41 win. Altogether, Barkley completed 32 of 39 passes to nine different receivers, broke Carson Palmer's school record with 468 yards through the air and led six touchdown drives covering at least 60 yards apiece — every single one of which the Trojans needed to stave off an upset thanks to a defense that yielded 554 yards and 37 Arizona first downs, another school record on the negative side.

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Through five games, Woods still leads the nation in receptions and receiving yards, and Barkley is easily on pace to join Palmer and another former Heisman winner, Matt Leinart, as the most prolific single-season passers in SC history.

Honorable Mention: Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase connected with receiver A.J. Jenkins 12 times for 268 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-35, comeback win over Northwestern, basically taking over the final act: Four of Jenkins' seven catches in the second half went for at least 25 yards, including both of the first two scores that sparked the Illini's rally from a 28-10 hole.

ENVIRONMENTALISM • Texas A&M.
For the second week in a row, the Aggies served as an unwitting PSA for the unsustainability of an oil-based economy, visibly running out of gas in a 42-38 loss to Arkansas. In consecutive games, A&M has outscored two ranked opponents 55-20 in the first half, only to be outscored 52-12 in the second.{YSP:MORE}

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HISTORY • Gus Malzahn and Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn.
It's the fourth quarter. Auburn trails by one score, facing a crucial third-and-medium with the ball inside the opponent's 10-yard line. What happens next? Last November at Alabama, it was a seven-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Philip Lutzenkirchen on a delayed tight end drag, completing an epic comeback and sending the Tigers on to the BCS Championship Game. Saturday at South Carolina, it was a nine-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Philip Lutzenkirchen on a delayed tight end drag, completing an 11-play, 57-yard drive and sealing a 16-13 upset that moves the Tigers to 4-1.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP • Melvin Ingram, South Carolina.
Auburn's late heroics overshadowed another whale of a game by the not-quite-whale-sized senior, who had his tentacles in everything: Officially, he was credited with 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks and an interception on a fake field goal attempt. The only thing Ingram didn't do: Add to his three-touchdown total for the season — help the Carolina offense could have desperately used. But the Gamecocks may be in the new quarterback against Kentucky, and in a pinch…

Honorable Mention: This section may as well be renamed for LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who makes his weekly appearance via an impressive strip 'n score in the Tigers' 35-7 win over Kentucky

Mathieu's stat line through five games: Four forced fumbles, one interception, two sacks and two touchdowns — while also serving as the leading tackler for a defense that ranks in the top ten nationally in every major category.

TRANSPORTATION • Odell Beckham Jr., LSU.
Officially, Beckham covered 51 yards on a second quarter touchdown catch from quarterback Jarrett Lee. But he made a few detours around the greater Baton Rouge area on his way to the end zone:

Yeah, he's just a freshman, folks.

PHILANTHROPY • Taylor Martinez, Nebraska.
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson grabbed all the headlines, and deservedly so, but his job was made even easier by his counterpart, who served up three ugly-looking interceptions — all three leading to Badger touchdowns — in a 48-17 flop in Madison. Martinez did manage to complete 50 percent of his throws, keeping him above the Mendoza line for the year, but only barely.

ETIQUETTE • Dyshawn Davis, Syracuse.
There was not a lot to write home about in Rutgers' trip to the Carrier Dome, but you have to credit Davis for his punctuality on this first quarter blitz:

From there, the Orange proceeded to score a single offensive touchdown in regulation and lose in overtime, 19-16.

LITERATURE • Utah State.
Already, the Aggies' season was unfolding like a Thomas Hardy novel after blowing fourth quarter leads in the final minute of losses to Auburn and Colorado State. But Friday night, clinging to the final thread of a 24-13 lead over rival BYU with 15 seconds to play, it just got cruel:

Four games in, Utah State's outgaining opponents by nearly 150 yards per game, but currently sits at 1-3.

CATCHES OF THE YEAR OF THE WEEK
First prize this week belongs to Baylor's Kendall Wright, who couldn't extend the Bears' record to 4-0 at Kansas State, but did give us his best Willie Mays impression on the last of his three touchdown receptions from Robert Griffin III:

Do you know how good that is? It's so good, it beats out this one.

Next up, it's Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, who delivered the best one-handed grab of the night — that's right, I said it: better than Andrew Luck's — in Stanford's 45-19 cakewalk over UCLA:

Those are the kinds of plays where I feel like the defender would have been better off had he not even tried.

For an awful-looking game between two awful-looking teams, Rutgers' overtime win at Syracuse actually produces two of this week's best highlights, the second coming courtesy of a familiar face in these parts, sticky-fingered Scarlet Knight receiver Mohamed Sanu:

And finally, here's Oklahoma safety/personal Twitter favorite Tony Jefferson going way, way up to bring down the second of his three interceptions in the Sooners' 62-6 obliteration of Ball State:

@tonyjefferson1's new avatar today? You guessed it.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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