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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
SEC superlative tracker

By Chris Low

We take 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: Not only has he been the best player in the SEC this season, but he’s put together one of the more dominant seasons in SEC history. Accounting for 39 touchdowns in 11 games, Newton has been the player nobody in the league has an answer for this season.

2. Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb: His versatility and his consistency have been remarkable. He’s accounted for at least one score in all 11 games this season and has accounted for touchdowns four different ways -- rushing, passing, receiving and punt return. Cobb is the only player in the SEC with more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and is second in the SEC with 66 catches.

3. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore: It’s no coincidence that when Lattimore has a big game running the football, the Gamecocks win. He leads all SEC running backs with 1,066 rushing yards and leads the league with 19 touchdowns. He needs two more to break the SEC freshman record for single-season touchdowns.

4. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: With the Hogs playing their best football here at the end of the season, so is Mallett. He leads the SEC with 3,272 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes and is completing 67.2 percent of his passes. Mallett is third nationally in passing efficiency.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley: He’s the kind of disrupter in the middle all defenses are looking for and the kind of player that blows up plays from the start with his inside push. Fairley leads all SEC players with 18 tackles for loss and leads all defensive tackles with 7.5 sacks.

2. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson: His four interceptions this season don’t begin to tell you what kind of player he is. Not only is he the best cornerback in college football and outstanding in man coverage, but he’s also one of the surest tacklers in the game.

3. Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston: The 3-4 defense has obviously been good for Houston, who leads the SEC with 10 sacks. He’s second to Fairley with 17.5 tackles for loss and has developed his game to where he’s more than just a pass-rusher.

4. LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis: Outside of Fairley, there hasn’t been a more dominant interior lineman in the SEC this season than Nevis. He leads all SEC defensive linemen (ends and tackles) with 53 total tackles, including 12.5 for loss.

Coach of the Year

1. Auburn’s Gene Chizik: A finalist for the Eddie Robinson national coach of the year award, Chizik has the Tigers two wins away from playing for their first national championship since 1957.

2. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier: He has the Gamecocks in the SEC championship game for the first time in school history. They also have a chance to win 10 or more games for only the second time in school history.

3. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen: Two consecutive losses haven’t soiled the job Mullen has done this season with the Bulldogs, who are already bowl-eligible and can get to eight wins by taking care of arch-rival Ole Miss on Saturday.

4. LSU’s Les Miles: If the Tigers win Saturday at Arkansas and finish 11-1 in the regular season, the Mad Hatter deserves some consideration. He’s kept this team together and on point despite all the negativity that gripped the program earlier this season.