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: He stepped up his Heisman Trophy campaign with four more touchdowns (three rushing and one passing) last week in the 65-43 win over Arkansas. He’s less than 150 yards away from becoming the second quarterback in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
2. Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb: He had the game-winning 24-yard touchdown catch in the 31-28 win over South Carolina and also scored the ensuing two-point conversion. When Cobb’s in the lineup, you can count on at least one touchdown from him in some capacity.
3. South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery: He leads the SEC with 40 catches for 690 yards and also has five touchdown catches. Nobody in the league is close to his receiving average of 115 yards per game.
4. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: The good news for the Hogs is that Mallett returned to practice Tuesday and expects to play this weekend against Ole Miss after suffering a concussion last week. He still leads the SEC in passing yards (1,844) and touchdown passes (14).
5. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore: Who knows what Lattimore’s numbers would have been had he not been injured in the first half last week? He’s tied for the SEC lead with 12 touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis: It continues to be a close race for the top spot. Nevis stays on top again this week. He leads all SEC interior linemen with 38 total tackles.
2. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley: He’s the SEC’s leader with 13.5 tackles for loss and is tied for second in sacks with five. He and Nevis have both been forces in the middle this season.
3. Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston: The Bulldogs’ defense is starting to come around, and Houston now leads the SEC with 6.5 sacks.
4. Mississippi State linebacker Chris White: Watch out for this guy. He erupted with 4.5 tackles for loss last week in the win over Florida and is now second in the SEC with 12 tackles for loss.
5. LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard: Nobody in the SEC is playing better defense than LSU, and Sheppard has been a rock in the middle for the Tigers. He’s second in the league with 66 total tackles.
Coach of the Year
1. Auburn’s Gene Chizik: We know this about Chizik: His teams finish. The Tigers have owned the fourth quarter this season, which is why they’re still unbeaten.
2. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen: He has the Bulldogs playing their best football in some time. They’ve won four in a row, including last week’s 10-7 win at Florida, and are getting better every game.
3. LSU’s Les Miles: The Mad Hatter gets his share of abuse, but maybe he’s mad like a fox. If you’re truly judged as a coach on how much you win, then Miles has to be right up there this season.
4. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier: Some of the luster wore off last week with that 31-28 loss at Kentucky, but the Head Ball Coach still has the Gamecocks in great position to win the East.
5. Kentucky’s Joker Phillips: Kudos to Phillips for keeping his team together and making sure they kept the faith after some tough losses. Don’t count the Wildcats out of the East race, either.