In a game with huge implications for the SEC title game and College Football Playoff, Alabama's top two stars, WR Amari Cooper and S Landon Collins, stepped up and Mississippi State's, QB Dak Prescott, did not Saturday.
The Crimson Tide built a lead that proved to be insurmountable in the first half, and Cooper led the way. As the Bulldogs tried to rally in the fourth quarter, Prescott threw the last of his three picks, and Collins did the honors.
By the end of Alabama's victory, Cooper was still firmly entrenched as a Heisman candidate, while Prescott might have bowed out of the race.
Here are more of my observations on those players as well as other top talents that caught my eye.
Cooper, Collins make the difference
It was clear to see that Cooper and Collins had big-game experience. They rose to the occasion.
It wasn't a flawless game for Cooper, but he cemented his status as the best wide receiver in college football, making eight catches for 88 yards and a TD. He was coming off what might have been the worst game of his career in terms of drops, against LSU, so it was good to see him show resiliency and rebound.
As for Collins, one thing that has jumped out to me is how he covers kicks. NFL teams want their safeties to be able to play special teams. They want to see a safety who can break down in space and tackle people, and Collins has shown he's excellent at that.
Collins was in the right place at the right time when he picked off Prescott. I don't think he's someone a defense is going to want to match up in man coverage on a down-by-down basis. He doesn't have elite cover skills, but he provides a physical presence and takes great angles to the ball. He's more comfortable playing downhill and is like an extra linebacker on the field for defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Disappointing day for Prescott
Prescott ran the ball hard Saturday (22 carries for 87 yards) but had some meltdown plays, throwing three interceptions, including one in the end zone. Bulldogs receivers did have some costly drops in the game. Prescott just forced things too much, though.
Prescott, a redshirt junior, is not very polished right now and clearly has some developing to do. He came out strong this season but has been inconsistent of late and isn't doing a good job protecting the ball. I don't think he should under any circumstance be considering leaving school for the NFL after this season. Another year of college would serve him well.
Yeldon's future bright
Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon (16 carries for 72 yards, TD) isn't at the same level as top RBs such as Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley and Tevin Coleman, but I'm very impressed with him. He has a chance to be an NFL starter one day. He once again did a nice job of stepping through tackles and finishing runs Saturday.
Bulldogs WR one to watch
Mississippi State WR De'Runnya Wilson is just a true sophomore, so he won't be eligible to declare for the draft until after next season, but I'm intrigued by him every time I watch him. He made eight grabs for a game-high 91 yards Saturday, and at 6-5, 225, he really stands out. Wilson, who also played for the Bulldogs' basketball team last season, can use his size on slant and vertical routes. He's a player I'll be keeping an eye on.