USC's blowout win over Notre Dame was a great moment for Trojans QB Cody Kessler and a big victory for first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian, but from a scouting perspective, the person that stood out most to me was Fighting Irish left tackle Ronnie Stanley.
I've heard from a lot of NFL personnel executives in recent weeks that Stanley is a big-time player. It was a bit surprising because his name is not one that comes up a lot when discussing the top players at his position, but I watched him Saturday, and he was phenomenal.
At 6-foot-5 ½ and 315 pounds, Stanley has good size to go along with great feet and balance. USC's star defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, lined up over Stanley a couple of times Saturday, and Stanley didn't have any problems against him.
The junior left tackle should continue generating a lot of buzz in scouting circles after Saturday's showing.
Here are more of my observations from the Notre Dame-USC game as well as other contests I was able to watch Saturday.
Quiet day for USC's Williams
Williams, one of the most talented players at any position in college football, has had some big-time games this season and some where he just kind of blends into the scenery. Saturday was more of the latter for him. His effort was good, but he didn't get a lot of penetration against Notre Dame, finishing with five tackles and one quarterback hurry.
Solid showing for Gordon
Another day, another good performance by Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, who rushed 29 times for 151 yards and a touchdown in a win over Minnesota. There's been some debate among scouts in the media about whether Gordon is being overrated. However, I can report that all the NFL people I talk to are in love with him. Some people question the history of Badgers rushers in the NFL, but I'm not hearing any concerns from league evaluators about how his game will translate at the next level.
Golson continues to sink
I've never been on the Everett Golson bandwagon, and the Notre Dame QB continued his decline Saturday against USC. Golson was benched after completing just seven passes for 75 yards and throwing a pick. It's clear that he has lost confidence. Golson isn't feeling pressure in the pocket, and he's not throwing the ball accurately.
Under-the-radar USC standouts
Trojans senior OLB J.R. Tavai had a big game Saturday, racking up 3.5 sacks, one other tackle for loss and a forced fumble vs. Notre Dame. The senior plays with a great motor and is really strong. He projects as a mid-round draft pick, and don't be surprised if goes on to have a long NFL career as a role player/special-teamer.
USC's Max Tuerk, a junior, slid in at center to replace third-round pick Marcus Martin this season, and he had a very solid game against the Irish. My NFL Media colleague Charles Davis hinted on the FOX broadcast of the game that Tuerk could slide to right tackle if he returns for his senior season. He's played all over the line during his career, but that could be his best spot. He's a versatile player with good size, toughness and strength.
Bad news on Barrett
You have to feel for Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, who was playing great before a fractured ankle brought his season to an end Saturday. Ohio State is going to have an interesting decision to make next year with Barrett and Braxton Miller coming back from injuries. From what I've seen, if both guys are healthy, I think Barrett is the better player at the position.
Keep eye on OSU WR
Some NFL people are very high on Ohio State WR Devin Smith, and he made a nice play on his lone catch Saturday vs. Michigan, a 52-yard grab. The senior looks like a classic second-rounder with size, speed and a big-time vertical.