Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

For all the Alabama fans who ever claimed sophomore running back Trent Richardson is even better than reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram, Saturday will be their chance for vindication, when Ingram takes the afternoon off to rehab a knee injury he suffered in Monday's practice. From the Mobile Press-Register on Tuesday:

Alabama's Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Mark Ingram underwent arthroscopic surgery this morning on his left knee, according to a statement by Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. Ingram will be out for Saturday's game against San Jose State and evaluated on a week-to-week basis after that. Alabama hosts Penn State on Sept. 11 and visits Duke on Sept. 18.

"It was a situation where everyone involved thought it would be better to take care of now, so he would not have any issues with it later in the season," Saban said. [...]

"Mark will definitely be out for this week's game against San Jose State and we will manage this on a week to week basis beyond this week. [...] This is not an injury that will affect Mark's future ability to make a full recovery in a relatively short time frame."

For San Jose State, big whoop: Richardson should easily top 100 yards in a couple quarters' work before turning the ball over to the third- and fourth-teamers to finish the outmanned Spartans' conversion into a pattern of random grease stains on the Bryant-Denny Stadium turf. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, though, "a relatively short time" is very likely to include the much more formidable visit from Penn State the following weekend, and just to be safe, the trip to Duke for one last gimme before Arkansas welcomes the Tide for a prime "trap" game to open the SEC schedule on Sept. 25. If Ingram's not ready for Penn State, the Razorbacks are the likely target.

Terrifyingly talented backup or no, sending one of the nation's most valuable players to the bench is never a good omen: See Bradford, Sam, in Oklahoma's opening-night collapse against BYU last year, a foreshadowing of the Sooners' descent from championship contender to Sun Bowl-bound also-ran over the course of the year. One of the keys to Alabama's title run, on the other hand, is that it remained remarkably healthy outside of a season-ending knee injury to linebacker Don'ta Hightower. San Jose State isn't BYU, and Ingram's injury doesn't seem that serious. But if it lingers into the games that matter, that's an issue.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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