Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde is a massive thumper, and Saturday he ran through Illinois. Hyde ran for 246 yards and scored five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) in the Buckeyes' 60-35 win. He is this year's Eddie Lacy, and Hyde might be better. An All-SEC 2012 season for Alabama launched Lacy's NFL career -- he was a second-round pick of the Packers in April -- and he is a top candidate for offensive rookie of the year this season. His pro career is off to a tremendous start, but I think Hyde's feet might be a little better than Lacy's. He has really helped Ohio State diversify its offense since he came back from that early-season three-game suspension. He has tremendous size and great vision as a runner.
Here are some other players that caught my eye during Saturday's early action:
Miller heading in right direction
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller continues to get better every time I watch him. I still think there are some touch issues with him throwing the football, but he's clearly a much better thrower than he was last season. He's better at making reads and going through his progressions. He has improved as a decision-maker, too. He's more confident as a passer -- he's willing to throw the ball into tighter windows than he ever was before. When you couple his improved throwing with his incredible running ability, you have a much-improved QB.
Miller entered the season as one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy knee, but a knee injury that sidelined him for two full games and all but a few snaps of a third set him back. If he doesn't get hurt early in the season, we'd be talking about him a lot more this year.
The knee injury knocked him off of our radar, but you better put him back on it.
Shazier stands out
Ohio State OLB Ryan Shazier is everything you want in a linebacker, and then some. He's fast, he diagnoses well and will strike the heck out of a ball carrier. I think he has improved as a blitzer this season.
I saw him making plays sideline to sideline Saturday vs. Illinois, including a sack-strip that resulted in a safety. I don't know if he runs a 4.35 40, but he's awfully fast.
Hot 100 seniors
In his midseason update of the top 100 seniors in college football, Gil Brandt has UCLA LB Anthony Barr No. 1 and a previously unranked player in his top 5. More ...
Borland, Wisconsin dominant
Wisconsin MLB Chris Borland racked up 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in the Badgers' rout of Indiana. The senior linebacker just knows how to play the game and reminds me of Rams MLB James Laurinaitis. Borland's positioning is always right. He knows how to take on blocks and shed them. He is a better runner than he gets credit for and is highly productive. He's a very intelligent player.
Wisconsin dominated in the trenches vs. Indiana, racking up 554 yards rushing, and Badgers senior left guard Ryan Groy was hammering Hoosiers, clearing the way for James White, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement to each rush for more than 100 yards.
Vandy stars shine
Vanderbilt CB Andre Hal continues to cement his standing as one of the nation's top senior defensive backs. He made a nice play to get an interception Saturday in a 22-6 win over Kentucky. He always seems to be in the right spot. Vandy's standout senior on offense, WR Jordan Matthews, showed his toughness Saturday as he made 12 catches for 141 yards. He's a big-body player willing to work inside and will run past you if you play him too tight. Matthews is not afraid to compete for the ball.
Rebels not one-man show at WR
Ole Miss junior WR Donte Moncrief is a great player, but Saturday I saw a couple Rebels wide receivers complementing him nicely in a 51-21 win over Troy. Vince Sanders really goes up and gets it. He's a bigger-bodied guy. Laquon Treadwell, who led the team with two TD grabs Saturday, is a little more shifty, but he also will make plays on the ball.
Don't overlook Cincinnati QB
Bearcats QB Brendon Kay was terrific vs. Rutgers Saturday, throwing for a career-high 408 yards and four touchdowns in a 52-17 win over Rutgers. He made some really nice throws, showing touch and good arm strength. He looked confident and poised. After having to battle injuries and compete for his job throughout his career, it's almost as if nothing can faze him anymore. He's someone we're going to have to take a look at down the road. He's not in the category of the quarterbacks we're discussing as a potential early-round picks, but he is putting himself on the radar.
Ohio State youngster showing promise
It was really unfortunate to see Ohio State freshman Joey Bosa suffer an injury early in the third quarter vs. Illinois, because he flashed several times in the first half. An injury early in the season cleared a spot for him to start on the defensive line, and he hasn't given the job up. Keep an eye on him in the future. He's really talented and will continue to get bigger, stronger and faster. He has good bloodlines, too -- his dad, John, was a first-round pick of the Dolphins in 1987.