AUBURN, Ala. — Trent Richardson and No. 2 Alabama have convinced Nick Saban that they're worthy of competing for college football's top prize.
They'll have to wait a while for the final decision.
Richardson rushed for 203 yards, a career high, and AJ McCarron had three first-half touchdown passes to lift the Crimson Tide to a 42-14 victory over rival Auburn on Saturday.
Let the lobbying begin. Saban said he thinks the Tide is one of the nation's best two teams, Richardson's the top player and that 'Bama deserves a second shot at LSU.
"This team lost one game in overtime to a very, very good team who's No. 1 right now," the Tide coach said. "And we lost in overtime. … I think (Crimson Tide players) deserve an opportunity, the best opportunity that's out there for them."
Alabama, No. 2 in the BCS rankings behind LSU, has a week before finding out if it has secured a shot at a second national title in three years.
"That's out of our hands, but I think we've proven we should be there without a doubt," said Alabama tight end Brad Smelley, who had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Richardson ran 27 times and caught a 5-yard touchdown in his final chance to impress Heisman voters. His runs of 35 and 57 yards set up second-half scores.
"To me, Trent's the best football player in the country," Saban said.
The Tide fell to LSU 9-6 on Nov. 5 in an overtime game that Tide fans at least feel didn't settle the matter of which one is better.
Alabama dominated statistically but didn't put Auburn away until cornerback Dee Milliner's 35-yard interception return early in the fourth. The Tigers scored touchdowns on a fumble recovery and a kick return.
"We got to the fourth quarter and felt like we were somewhere in that ballpark, and the fourth quarter got away from us," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "We kind of self-destructed."
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Connor Shaw threw three touchdowns and ran for one to lead No. 14 South Carolina to a 10-win season for the first time in 27 years and its third straight victory over No. 18 Clemson, 34-13.
South Carolina's only other 10-victory season in 118 years of football came in 1984.
Shaw passed for 210 yards and rushed for 107 in his seventh start since taking over for dismissed senior and former Jefferson star Stephen Garcia.
"I think my confidence is boosting game by game," Shaw said.
KENTUCKY 10, TENNESSEE 7: Receiver Matt Roark filled in at quarterback and gained 124 yards on 24 carries as the host Wildcats snapped its losing streak in the series at 26, the longest active losing streak by any team against a league foe.
Tennessee failed to become bowl eligible with its first loss to Kentucky since 1984.
"What an amazing, amazing game," Wildcats coach Joker Phillips said. "How many, if we lined up the last 26 years, how many quarterbacks have we had? Probably 15? Who would pick out Matt Roark as the guy who broke the streak."
MISSISSIPPI ST. 31, Ole MISS 3: Vick Ballard rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown and had a receiving TD as the host Bulldogs became bowl eligible. The margin of victory was Mississippi State's highest in the Egg Bowl since 1919.