One week changes every thing in college football.
Before the Alabama Crimson Tide went to South Carolina, they appeared unbeatable. They seemed superhuman and had launched discussions of SEC separation and how the league was lagging behind the defending national champions.
One week and one inspired 35-21 South Carolina win later, all that seems like a distant illusion. Is Alabama among the best teams in the SEC and the nation? Sure. But that air of invincibility has been lifted - and lifted by erratic quarterback Stephen Garcia of all people.
Certainly Nick Saban and Co. have the talent and temperament - if not the news-conference etiquette - to win out, but that one loss changed the view for the entire league.
Offensive player of the year: Cam Newton, Auburn
The junior college transfer with the monstrous size (6-foot-6, 250 pounds), scary speed (reportedly timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and impeccable fashion sense (digging that headband) has gone from first-year starter to Heisman front-runner in six games. That type of jump is possible when you rank second in the nation in pass efficiency (180.7) and 12th nationally in rushing (672 yards) and account for 21 touchdowns.
Honorable mention: Ryan Mallett, Arkansas; Mark Ingram, Alabama.
Defensive player of the year: Patrick Peterson, LSU
Peterson is the rarest of players - he demands attention and presnap recognition on every play. From the secondary and on special teams, Peterson is dangerous from anywhere. And until the LSU offense reintroduced themselves to receiver Terrence Tolliver, Peterson was the Tigers' most serious scoring threat.
Honorable mention: Nick Fairley, Auburn; Drake Nevis, LSU.
Freshman of the year: Aaron Murray, Georgia
At season's dawn the talk was about Murray "managing the game" and how the 10 returning starters on the Georgia offense were at the mercy of how the redshirt freshman played. Please. Murray has been one of the few strengths of a Bulldogs team that has been besieged by mistakes on and off the field. He ranks in the top 30 nationally in passing efficiency (27th at 152.1), passing yards (30th with 1,366) and touchdown passes (tied for 28th with 10). Not bad for the preseason's weak link, huh?
Honorable mention: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina; Justin Hunter, Tennessee.
Coach of the year: Gene Chizik, Auburn
Entering the season, the Auburn Tigers were pegged as the fourth-best in the SEC West. Six games into 2010, Chizik and Co. are the No. 7-ranked team in America. They have escaped a couple of times - three of their six wins are by a field goal, including a very fortunate 27-24 win over Clemson - but they still are unblemished. Chizik and Auburn could be in line for a whole trophy case of awards if the Tigers survive the next two weeks when Arkansas and LSU visit, regardless of the margin.
Honorable mention: Les Miles, LSU; Steve Spurrier, South Carolina.
Game of the year: LSU at Florida, Oct. 9
It had a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of LSU coach Les Miles. The Tigers converted a fake field goal - that featured a bounced lateral to a kicker - in the final minute. LSU ran the same play twice in a row in the final seconds inside the Florida red zone to produce the Jarrett Lee-to-Terrence Tolliver touchdown that won the game. It was hard to take your eyes off.
Honorable mention: Arkansas at Georgia, Sept. 18; Alabama at South Carolina, Oct. 9
Moment of the year: The untimed game-winner on the Bayou
There's no doubt about this one, right? LSU had badly mismanaged the final-minute drill and was close to running out of time before T'Bob Hebert snapped the ball before the clock reached triple O. The snap sailed by quarterback Jordan Jefferson and was recovered by Tennessee's Nick Reveiz to give the Vols a 14-10 win. During the craziness that included LSU swapping offensive packages, the Vols substituted and had 13 guys on the field, giving LSU one more crack at it. When Stevan Ridley powered his way into the end zone to give LSU a 16-14 win, it set off several dominoes from coaches talking about rules to looking at shuffling players. But mainly it forced every coach from the East Brainerd Bills to the Buffalo Bills to spend a little extra time on their two-minute drills.
Honorable mention: Cam Newton's 20-foot flight into the end zone against South Carolina; LSU's fake field goal against Florida.