In the game of the century of the week, Alabama and Texas A&M had another thriller with the Crimson Tide coming out on top. SB Nation's Bill Connelly has a stellar breakdown of the game here. While Alabama won the game 49-42, Texas A&M had the best player on the field.
No, it wasn't quarterback Johnny Manziel or even left tackle Jake Matthews. It was wide receiver Mike Evans. Alabama tried a few different ways to stop Evans – different cornerbacks, press coverage, zone coverage, safety help. It didn't matter. Evans torched the Bama secondary for seven receptions for 279 yards and a touchdown.
At 6-foot-5, Evans is a matchup problem and knows how to use that size to his advantage on the high, lofting passing Manziel likes to throw. Just a redshirt sophomore, Evans has the ability to go pro after this season. Here are five more players ready for the NFL, and a few not quite ready for prime time.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
It was easy to be underwhelmed by UCLA's first half play against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers led 21-10 after two quarters, and Barr wasn't making much of an impact. But like the rest of his teammates, he came alive in the second half. Barr isn't getting after the quarterback yet this year and has no sacks. But on Saturday he looked like a more complete player dropping into coverage and playing the run. He finished the game with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. The athleticism is still there, and now Barr is showing a much greater understanding for the game.
Anthony Steen, G, Alabama
Is there a more unassuming, underrated player in college football than Steen? Announcers never excitedly talk up Steen's play. Coaches and teammates rarely speak glowingly about him after games. But there he is up front at right guard being efficient and steady. Texas A&M didn't get a push against Alabama and Steen was a big reason.
Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
Whenever Wisconsin plays, the Badgers typically have the best running backs in the game. But Arizona State has a standout of their own in Grice. The senior runs with determination and has the functional playing strength to get yards after contact. Grice even looked proficient running wheel routes in the pass game. For the day, he ran the ball 22 times for just 84 yards, but he had four touchdowns and looks like a solid runner.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
While Grice's touchdowns and receptions were impressive, Gordon is the better pure runner. He's not going to time out well in speed tests, but that shouldn't be expected from a 6-foot-1, 207-pound running back. Gordon is an effortless runner. Gordon gets up to speed in a hurry and is capable of breaking big runs. Although Gordon is just a redshirt sophomore, we saw two third-year running backs go pro this year. Gordon is just as ready for the next level.
Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
It's going to be a challenge to get a beat on how NFL teams feel about Borland. Teams don't often think highly of 5-foot-11 linebackers, but Borland is incredibly active and versatile. Against Arizona State, Borland lined up in the traditional middle linebacker spot, but was also used off the edge as a pass rusher. Borland even completed a pass on a fake punt. Borland won't get drafted high, but that versatility will keep him in the NFL.
Trey DePriest, MLB, Alabama
In a game where Alabama needed big plays from its linebackers, DePriest offered few. Although DePriest wasn't on the field as much as someone like C.J. Mosley, he still had just two tackles on the game, neither of which were impact plays. Through two games, DePriest has just five tackles. In addition to a preseason suspension and the fact that he may be a two-down linebacker makes his draft status appear cloudy.
Not to kick a team when it's down, but Texas is on the downward spiral. Part of the reason is the upperclassmen on defense aren't making big plays. Cornerback Carrington Byndom is getting pushed around. Nickel back Quandre Diggs isn't making plays. Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat seems to lack fire.