College football players are really taking their game to another level with the magnitude of each contest reaching new heights. This is no longer September, when players can slack a little bit and don't have to go all out against inferior opponents.
Guys realize that it is all or nothing this time of year and are playing like it. There were plenty of big time matchups last week and several of them brought out a performance that will be remembered for a week, at least until it's time to hit the gridiron once again.
Week 10 included a quarterback who scored seven touchdowns, a receiver who hauled in more than 200 receiving yards and a defensive back who intercepted three passes.
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
The Sun Devils knew they had a solid quarterback in Kelly, but I'm not sure they even knew what was coming against Washington State. The junior quarterback was not only flawless in the air, throwing for 275 yards and five touchdowns, but he also ran for 66 yards and two scores.
He was a one-man wrecking crew in the 55-21 win over the Cougars and led his offense to its third straight 50-point performance.
Kelly now has 2,511 passing yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. He has also helped Arizona State sneak into the BCS rankings (22nd).
Devonta Freeman, Florida State
On a night when Jameis Winston wasn't his usual self, Freeman demanded the football and decided to give the offense a major spark. He scored the first touchdown of the game and also had a remarkable 48-yard touchdown reception that came off a screen pass to put the Seminoles up by two scores. The junior scored three times and had more than 150 all-purpose yards to help Florida State top Miami in its in-state rivalry.
Tre Mason, Auburn
Mason has had a solid career in Auburn, but his performance in the victory over Arkansas was by far his best game. The speedy running back touched the ball 32 times for 168 yards and four touchdowns. He scored the first three touchdowns of the game for Auburn and helped the Tigers put the final nail in the coffin by scoring on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter. Mason continues to be one of the more underrated backs in the country.
Josh Harper, Fresno State
If it wasn't for the junior receiver, Fresno State may have lost for the first time this season to Nevada. That would have crashed its BCS hopes. Instead, Harper caught 17 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. That is not a misprint. He caught double-digit passes for the second time this season, and his receiving yardage mark was the most of any other player in Week 10. This guy deserves a 'thank you' card from the coaching staff.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Although Watkins had five 100-yard performances this season heading into the game against Virginia, he was still missing something. He just wasn't his usual explosive self that he was during his freshman season. The Cavaliers saw that Watkins in a 59-10 loss, as the junior receiver caught eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 21.1 yards per catch and has now topped 160 receiving yards in two straight games.
Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
I try every week to find any other tight end worthy of making this list. More times than not I fail. But after Amaro's performance against Oklahoma State, there wasn't any point in looking for another player to occupy this spot.
He did it again!
Although the Red Raiders lost, the massive junior receiver finished the game with 15 receptions, 174 yards and a touchdown. It seems like he's outdoing himself despite already being the best tight end in the country. It'll be fun to see what he can do for an encore next week against Kansas State.
USC's Offensive Line
Since the game took place on a Friday night, USC's upset win over Oregon State didn't receive nearly as much attention as it should have. Well, the Trojans beat a solid team on the road for the first time in forever!
One of the reasons the upset took place is an offensive lined that opened up gaping running lanes to allow 242 rushing yards. The Trojans had two 100-yard rushers in both Silas Redd and Javorius Allen. The big uglies also surrendered just two sacks to a feisty Oregon State pass rush.
Keep in mind that USC has a reshuffled offensive line and has had issues with this unit all season. At least for one week, it deserves major props.
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
You know you're a terrific player when you've made this list a couple of times in a losing effort. Although the Panthers lost 21-10 to Georgia Tech, the senior defensive lineman had yet another fabulous performance.
Donald led the way with 11 tackles, six tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Impressive, huh? Did I mention that all 11 tackles were solo? Yes, if you aren't aware of the Chuck Bednarik Award candidate, it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon.
Donald now has 19.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks on the season.
Marcus Trotter, Wisconsin
Trotter has been a backup linebacker for Wisconsin the last three seasons, playing in a limited role behind one of the best in Chris Borland. But when the Butkus Award semifinalist couldn't suit up for the game against Iowa, Trotter was thrown into the fire as his replacement.
No pressure, right?
Trotter played the game like he was used to starting, as he racked up nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry that helped force a second half interception. Trotter was key in the Badgers winning their third game in a row.
D'Joun Smith, FAU
FAU has seen better days with head coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis resigning from the program. Already with a roster filled with mediocre talent and a shorthanded coaching staff, a battle with Tulane didn't look so promising.
Not so fast! The Owls dug deep and managed to win the game 34-17.
The key player was Smith, who did his best LeBron James impersonation. Not one, not two, but three interceptions. Simply incredible. Two of his turnovers led to FAU touchdowns on the following offensive drive.
Smith, who is a junior, now has seven interceptions and 10 broken up passes on the season.