Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Thanks to a soft schedule, Auburn probably wasn’t as good as the Tigers looked those first five games, but that still doesn’t diminish the job that first-year coach Gene Chizik and his staff have done to this point. The Tigers (5-2, 2-2) have lost their last two games after starting out 5-0 and being nationally ranked at one point. The 21-14 home loss last week to Kentucky was particularly troubling. That’s one you’ve got to win if you’re planning on a big season. A lack of depth is a problem at a number of different spots, and the defense looks like it might be treading water. Offensively, the Tigers need to get quarterback Chris Todd back on track. His production has gone way down the last two weeks after he looked great during the five-game winning streak to start the season.
Offensive MVP: RB Ben Tate. The SEC is loaded with quality running backs this season, but Tate deserves to be right up there with any of them. He’s second only to Mark Ingram in the SEC with 856 rushing yards and has gained 128 yards or more in each of his last three games. He’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry on the season. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is feeding him the ball, and the senior is delivering with his best season.
Defensive MVP: LB Craig Stevens. The 6-3, 223-pound junior has been an iron man for the Tigers, as all three of the starting linebackers have had to play too many snaps this season. Stevens is third in the SEC with 62 total tackles and leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss. He’s also tied for the team lead in quarterback hurries with five and has been the Tigers’ most consistent performer on a defense that has taken it on the chin.