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SEC blog ESPYS

6/27/2011

In the spirit of next month’s ESPYS, we at the SEC blog have come up with our own version of the awards show but with an SEC twist.

Auburn headlines the SEC in the ESPYS with five nominations, but how with the Tigers fair in our award ceremony?

Take look at the winners:

Best athlete: QB Cam Newton, Auburn: There really isn’t much more to say about Newton and the magical season he had in his first -- and only -- season at Auburn. The Heisman Trophy winner passed for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading the SEC with 1,473 rushing yards and 20 more scores. Outside of his statistics, Newton was one of the toughest athletes in the country for defenders to corrale. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Newton barreled through defenses while maintaining impressive elusiveness.

Best championship performance: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn: Oregon coach Chip Kelly said Fairley was the difference in the national championship game and that his Ducks simply couldn't block him. Fairley finished the game with five tackles, including three for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.

Breakthrough athlete: RB Knile Davis, Arkansas: Fairley could have won this, but we went outside the box. Davis was one of the most consistent players in the league toward the end of last season and led all running backs with 1,322 rushing yards and had 13 touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in six of the 13 games he played (all in the last seven games) and averaged 101.7 yards per game.

Record-breaking performance: Newton, Auburn: Newton had a SEC record 4,327 total yards of offense last season. His 1,473 rushing yards set the SEC single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He became the third player in league history with at least 4,000 yards in a season and the first in SEC history with 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

Best game: Auburn coming back from a 24-0 deficit to beat Alabama 28-27: Alabama had all of the momentum until Newton connected with Emory Blake for a 36-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. The Tigers then outscored the Tide 21-3 in the second half to stun Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Best upset: South Carolina taking down No. 1-ranked Alabama: Alabama was the preseason No. 1 and had won 19 in a row entering the game, but held the lead for just three minutes against South Carolina in Columbia. The Gamecocks, led by three touchdowns from quarterback Stephen Garcia rolled over the Tide in a 35-21 win. It was Alabama's first SEC loss since the 2008 SEC championship against Florida and the Tide's first regular-season loss since losing to Auburn to close the 2007 regular season.

Best moment: Nick Bell's mother ringing a cowbell to end the moment of silence for her son in the first game following his death : Mississippi State lost the defensive end, who was 20, after his short battle with cancer last fall. Before the Arkansas game the Mississippi State marching band formed Bell's No. 36 on the field as it prepared to play the national anthem. The crowd then observed a moment of silence in honor of Bell and Linda Bell closed by ringing her cowbell. Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said it was one of the most moving things he's seen at a sporting event.

Best team: Auburn: The Tigers went 14-0 and took home the crystal ball. Doesn’t get any better than that.

Best coach: Gene Chizik, Auburn: The Tigers’ second-year coach went from being booed when he arrived in Auburn to winning a national championship in just two seasons. Auburn was 8-5 in his first year and went undefeated in 2010.