Countdown to kickoff: 21
Trent Richardson's 2011-12 season ranked as one of the best in school history. Had it not been for Robert Griffin III beating him out for the Heisman Trophy, it could have finished No. 1.
The Florida native will bear the bitter temperatures of Cleveland now, though, and the Crimson Tide are left to replace his production. Junior Eddie Lacy is the presumed starter and appears to be fully healed after offseason surgery on his foot. And Richardson's former backup is ready to continue the tradition of great running backs in Tuscaloosa.
"They set the standard pretty high, but it's not going to surpass their level," Lacy said. "It's just working on what you have to do and what you're good at doing and just going out and playing comfortable and doing what you're capable of doing."
Lacy won't be alone in the backfield. He's joined by Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart, and a pair of true freshmen tailbacks in T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Fowler averaged nearly 7 yards per carry last year and Yeldon wowed Tide fans with a 100-plus yard performance at A-Day in April.
With that many talented backs in one place, the competition has been intense, but friendly.
"It's never pressure between us," Lacy said. "We always compete, but it's always friendly competition. We help each other out. We give each other pointers. So even though we're going against each other , at the same time, we're pushing each other."
Single-season rushing touchdowns
1. Trent Richardson: 21
2. Shaun Alexander: 19
3. Siran Stacey: 17
4. Mark Ingram: 17
5. Johnny Musso: 16
All-purpose yards per game
1. Bobby Humphrey (1986): 168.0
2. David Palmer (1993): 163.4
3. Shaun Alexander (1999): 163.3
4. Bobby Humphrey (1987): 161.9
5. Trent Richardson (2011): 160.2
Players Provide Playoff Picks
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State