Richardson bulls way into Heisman race

To win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find ways to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations; one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight. In Week 5, we saw several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates. Here are the candidates who helped themselves the most.

(1) Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide

Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 181 yards on 29 carries in Alabama’s win against Florida. Richardson was able to run through defenders with 123 of his yards coming after contact (4.2 YAC per att). Entering the week, Richardson had rushed for only 157 yards after contact on 67 attempts this season (2.3 YAC per att). In the fourth quarter against Florida, Richardson broke a 36-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach. It was Richardson’s third 30-plus yard touchdown run of the season, tying him with Lamar Miller (Miami) and Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) for the most in FBS.

(2) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers

Russell Wilson threw two touchdowns and ran for a third in Wisconsin’s win against Nebraska. Wilson completed all four of his throws that went farther than 20 yards in the air for 148 yards and both of his passing touchdowns. Wilson is completing 63.2 percent of his throws of 21-plus yards this season with no interceptions. With North Carolina State last season, Wilson completed just 36.1 percent of the same throws and had five interceptions.

(3) Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal

Andrew Luck completed 23 of 27 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a win against UCLA. Luck completed two more touchdowns to his tight ends, giving him nine touchdowns and no interceptions when targeting tight ends this season (most touchdowns in FBS). Perhaps, the most Heisman-worthy play of the game was not with Luck at quarterback. He acrobatically caught a 13-yard pass from Drew Terrell with one hand while tiptoeing the right sideline. It was Luck’s second career reception and first since 2009.

(4) Robert Griffin III, Baylor Bears

Robert Griffin III continued his excellent play, throwing for 346 yards and five touchdowns in a loss at Kansas State. Griffin completed 6 of 8 throws of 15 or more yards including three touchdowns. For the season, Griffin is completing 75 percent of these throws with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Griffin is even better when targeting Kendall Wright. He is 11-of-13 on throws of 15-plus yards including six touchdowns when targeting his top receiver. Unfortunately, Griffin threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter. It was his first interception in 178 attempts dating to last season.

(5) Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines

Denard Robinson accounted for more than 200 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in Michigan’s 58-0 rout of Minnesota. Robinson started the game by completing his first 11 passes. It was the first time in Robinson’s career that he completed his first 10 passes to start a game. Robinson was at his best throwing off play action, completing 7 of 8 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

-- Toby Petitpas, Sharon Katz, Gil Bransford, Jason Starrett and Nate Salinas