Our weekly look at the offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year and coach of the year races in the SEC:
Offensive Player of the Year
1. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton: All the allegations didn’t affect him last week. He accounted for five touchdowns in the blowout win over Chattanooga and now has 19 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns on the season.
2. Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb: Don’t blame Cobb for the Wildcats’ so-so record. He’s third nationally with an average of 176.8 all-purpose yards per game and has accounted for his 14 touchdowns four different ways.
3. South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery: All seven of Jeffery’s touchdown catches have come in SEC play, and his average of 114.9 receiving yards per game leads the second-place guy in the league (Alabama’s Julio Jones) by more than 30 yards.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley: Georgia coach Mark Richt said earlier this week that Fairley was the closest thing he’s seen to Warren Sapp, which is some mighty high praise. Fairley leads the SEC with 18 tackles for loss and is second with 7.5 sacks.
2. LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis: Anybody who watched Nevis wreak havoc against Alabama last Saturday knows what a great football player he is. He leads all SEC interior defensive linemen with 47 total tackles.
3. Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston: He’s the SEC’s sacks leader with nine and is second with 16.5 tackles for loss. Houston has settled in nicely at his new outside linebacker spot, becoming the league’s most feared pass-rusher.
Coach of the Year
1. Auburn’s Gene Chizik: The Tigers have met every challenge to this point. These past few weeks will be Chizik’s toughest test, especially with all the allegations flying around concerning Newton.
2. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen: Mullen and the Bulldogs will put their six-game winning streak on the line Saturday when they travel to Alabama. They’ve easily been the most improved team in the league this season.
3. LSU’s Les Miles: How about a little love for “The Hat?” Coming off the big win over Alabama, he has LSU up to No. 5 in the BCS standings this week. Even for him, some of his play calls this season have been beyond gutsy.