Leonard Fournette is still in the driver’s seat to win the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year honors, but one player made a push to close the gap on Fournette’s lead.
In a weekend where some of the conference’s premier quarterbacks struggled, Auburn tailback Peyton Barber “Fournette-d” the Tigers to a 35-21 victory over San Jose State last weekend. Barber ran for all of five Auburn’s touchdowns and added 147 rushing yards. Barber had the most prolific performance of the weekend and is now fifth in the conference with 558 rushing yards on the season.
Here’s our look at the POY race and a glance at who else could bump Fournette from the top spot:
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Fournette ran for his typical 233 yards and three touchdowns against Eastern Michigan Saturday. He leads the SEC in rushing with 864 yards and the gap between Fournette and UGA’s Nick Chubb isn’t that close.
2. Nick Chubb, RB, UGA: Chubb moved his streak of 100-yard performances to 13 games Saturday in a loss to Alabama. Chubb has at least 120 yards and two touchdowns in three of UGA’s five games this year and is second in the conference with 745 rushing yards.
3. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas: Collins ran all over Tennessee for 154 yards and two touchdowns last weekend. Collins has gone under the radar because of his team’s early struggles, but he has rushed for at least 127 yards in four of the Razorbacks’ five games.
4. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: Here’s another running back, but consistency matters. Henry casually plowed through UGA’s front seven for 148 yards and a touchdown in Alabama’s big win last weekend. Henry continues to show a combination of deceiving speed and brutal power.
5. Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M: Hey, a non-running back! Allen is now the best quarterback in the conference after Mississippi’s Chad Kelly and UGA’s Greyson Lambert stubbed their respective toes Saturday. Allen played efficiently again against a tough Mississippi State defense. He leads the conference with 13 touchdowns and is fourth in passing yardage with 1,274 yards. Allen also leads the SEC with a 169.0 quarterback rating.
6. Chad Kelly, QB, Mississippi: Kelly is still in the thick of this race, but he needs to bounce back from two consecutive sub-par performances. Kelly leads the SEC with 1,478 passing yards. He’s thrown three of his four interceptions during the past two games and hasn’t been spectacular since Ole Miss knocked off Alabama a few weeks ago.
7. Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn: Hope you enjoyed that running back reprieve, because Barber ascends up the list after not even being mentioned last week. Barber is one of the few things Auburn has working on offense. Barber has quietly ran for at least 115 yards in four of Auburn’s five games and is fifth in the conference in rushing. Touchdowns will need to be more of a consistent factor if Barber wants to contend with the rest of the tailbacks on this list.
8. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: Kirk had another solid performance for the Aggies last weekend. He caught eight passes for a modest 77 yards. Solid is good enough to be the best wide receiver in the conference this season. Kirk leads the SEC with 519 yards, is third in receptions and is tied for second in touchdowns. Kirk is an extremely consistent receiver who has established a great connection with his quarterback.
Just missed: Trent Sherfield, WR, Vanderbilt; Greyson Lambert, QB, Georgia