TUSCALOOSA | Desmond Howard knows exactly what a big performance in a big game can do for one's Heisman Trophy candidacy.
Twenty years ago, Howard had his moment. Twenty years later, he thinks Trent Richardson might have his against LSU on Saturday.
The 1991 Heisman winner is in town as part of ESPN's College Game Day crew. As a former winner, Howard has a Heisman vote, and said he has the University of Alabama running back at the top of his short list of candidates.
"This game is huge. This is a big stage. It's a bigger stage than what (Stanford quarterback Andrew) Luck had against USC," Howard said. "Trent Richardson, in my opinion, can get either neck and neck or leapfrog Andrew Luck with a very strong and commanding performance Saturday night against one of the top, if not the top defense in the country."
In 1991, Howard sealed his Heisman with a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown against Michigan rival Ohio State. He punctuated the moment with a Heisman pose in the end zone, which was captured in an iconic photo. Richardson isn't likely to strike any poses in the end zone, but he should cross the 1,000-yard rushing plateau against the Tigers. More important to his Heisman chances, however, would be an Alabama win. He knows the LSU game is a grand stage, but the win is his focus.
"It could be, but I don't buy into that stuff," Richardson said. "For the Heisman Trophy, I say Barrett Jones, Nachos (William Vlachos), I hope them boys get it."
Richardson has largely avoided questions about the Heisman this season, much the way former UA Heisman winner Mark Ingram did in 2009. He prefers to let his play speak for him. And Howard's vote, anyway, could be Richardson's for the taking on Saturday.
"A lot of people have fallen back (for the Heisman) because of the way they've performed, or because of the way their teams have played," Howard added. "He's at the top of my list. Clearly, he's one of the best players in the country."
Oddsmakers like Tide, bettors like Tigers
Despite LSU being the No. 1 team in the nation, the Tigers are a five-point underdog to Alabama according to oddsmakers. But while the oddsmakers may favor the Crimson Tide, wagerers are apparently liking LSU.
"At the pace that the LSU-Alabama game is getting bet right now, this will almost certainly be our highest-bet college game of the year to date and may even rival the BCS championship," said Bodog.com sports book manager Richard Gardner. "As predicted, the public is hitting up LSU, taking the five points on the road, with about 75 percent of the money on the Tigers."
"I watched film on him today, and yesterday. He's able to cut. He's able to do everything Trent can. Calloway, he's been doing a good job this week. He's been running hard, just like Ware will. He's just been doing everything he can to give us a good look." - UA LB Nico Johnson on LSU RB Spencer Ware, and the job UA freshman Brent Calloway has done mimicking Ware on the scout team.
Did you know?
UA wide receiver Marquius Maze and safety Mark Barron have been named players of the week by the coaching staff five times each, more than any other player on the roster.
UA officials released a warning about the sale of counterfeit tickets Thursday. The validity of tickets can be confirmed at the UA Athletic Ticket Office in Coleman Coliseum Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or on Saturday at either Gate 3 or Gate 32 at Bryant-Denny Stadium beginning at 3 p.m. Those found to have entered the stadium on a fraudulent ticket will be ejected, and those trying to gain entry at the gate with a fraudulent ticket may be denied admission and/or subject to an investigation.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.