After another topsy-turvy weekend in the SEC, the choices for helmet stickers were tough ones.
We could easily hand out 10 or more, but here are the five we came up with in what was a wild Week 7:
Mississippi State linebacker Chris White: The Bulldogs’ defense was just one of the stories Saturday in the 10-7 win over Florida, the first time Mississippi State has won in Gainesville since 1965. Setting the tone for that defense was White, who was everywhere. The Bulldogs’ senior middle linebacker finished with 11 total tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Manny Diaz’s Mississippi State defense has held five of its seven opponents to 17 points or less this season.
Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline: Making a strong bid as the SEC’s most improved player this season, Hartline was also long on courage Saturday night. He stood in there repeatedly against a fierce South Carolina rush and completed 32 of 42 passes for 349 yards, for four touchdowns and no interceptions. His 24-yard scoring pass to Randall Cobb on a fourth-and-7 play was the game-winner for the Wildcats in their 31-28 victory over the Gamecocks. Hartline, who’s been through the ringer during his career at Kentucky, threw three of his touchdowns in the second half to rally the Wildcats from a 28-10 halftime deficit.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton: Another week, another helmet sticker for Newton. He accounted for four touchdowns in Auburn’s 65-43 win over Arkansas and had 328 yards of total offense. The 6-6, 250-pound Newton rushed for 188 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns on the ground. He also had a 15-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake. Newton has accounted for 25 touchdowns on the season -- 13 passing and 12 rushing. He also has 860 rushing yards in seven games. Only one quarterback in SEC history has ever rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. Auburn’s Jimmy Sidle had 1,006 yards in 1963.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson: The Crimson Tide’s sophomore running back broke the game open with an 85-yard screen pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Alabama’s 23-10 win over Ole Miss. Richardson finished with 220 all-purpose yards. He leads the SEC in all-purpose yardage, averaging 183.1 yards per game.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips: A lot of teams would have folded their tents after getting down 28-10, especially coming off three straight losses. But there’s a toughness and a resilience about the Wildcats that reflects their head coach. Their 31-28 comeback win over South Carolina was Kentucky’s first ever over a Steve Spurrier-coached team, and props go out to Phillips for keeping his team in tune mentally and emotionally during a very difficult stretch.