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Midseason review: Auburn

AUBURN TIGERS

Record: 6-0 (3-0 SEC)

Here we are at the halfway point of the season, and sure enough, there’s one team from the state of Alabama unbeaten. It’s not defending national champion Alabama, though. It’s an Auburn team that has been tough as nails in the second half this season, rallying from double-digit deficits to beat both South Carolina and Clemson at home. And then last week on the road, the Tigers drove the length of the field for Wes Byrum’s game-winning field goal to beat Kentucky on the final play of the game. These next two weeks will tell us even more about Gene Chizik’s club. Auburn gets Arkansas at home this Saturday and then LSU at home the following week. One thing that’s noticeably different from a year ago is that the Tigers are playing more people and have more depth on defense. That’s where the highly rated signing class from this past February is paying off. Chizik has also pressed the right buttons with this team. Auburn is playing with great chemistry and great confidence right now.

Offensive MVP: QB Cam Newton. What do you get when you have a 250-pound quarterback with freakish athletic ability and an NFL-caliber arm? You get Newton, who’s taken this league by storm and is making a strong case for MVP honors in all of college football. He’s accounted for 21 touchdowns passing and running and is leading the SEC in rushing with an average of 112 yards per game. He’s rushed for 170 yards or more in three different games this season.

Defensive MVP: DT Nick Fairley. Much like Newton, Fairley swooped in under the radar this season. He was at least on the team a year ago, but only started in two games. This season, he’s been one of the two most dominant defensive players in the league along with LSU tackle Drake Nevis. Fairley leads the SEC with 12.5 tackles for loss and has given the Tigers a dominant presence in the middle of that defensive line they really didn’t have last season.