4:00 PM ET, December 7, 2013
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Tre Mason, No. 3 Auburn beat No. 5 Missouri in SEC title game
ATLANTA -- Tre Mason struck a pose -- a Heisman Trophy pose.
There's something the Auburn Tigers running back wants even more than an individual award.
Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 3 Auburn to a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri in a Southeastern Conference title showdown Saturday that looked more like a video game.
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Auburn (12-1) is likely headed to the VIZIO BCS National Championship after No. 2 Ohio State lost to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game. The Tigers are likely headed to Pasadena to face top-ranked Florida State, which routed Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Championship game.
"We won the SEC championship," receiver Sammie Coates said. "What else do you want us to do?"
Added Mason: "We feel like we beat the best teams. ... We feel like we deserve to be in the game."
The Auburn players headed off to watch the games that would decide their fate, the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in Charlotte, N.C., and the Big Ten title contest in Indianapolis. If Auburn misses out on the big game, it will head to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC champion.
Missouri (11-2) should be in the mix for a New Year's Day bowl, with the Capital One, Cotton and Outback games among the possible destinations.
"We're playing our best football right now," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, making his pitch for a trip to Pasadena. "I don't know if any other team can say that."
Auburn is certainly playing its best offensively. The Tigers set an SEC championship record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground.
Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, an easy choice as the game's MVP. He celebrated by breaking out the familiar Heisman pose, his longshot candidacy getting a huge boost.
"You're looking at one of the top running backs in college football," Malzahn said. "He was a warrior today. Unbelievable."
In a game where neither team played a lick of defense, Auburn finally stopped Missouri on fourth-and-1 deep in its own territory, setting up Mason's final score. Chris Davis broke up the pass, not quite as thrilling as his 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama, but another huge play for the nation's biggest turnaround team.
Auburn running back Tre Mason set five individual SEC championship game records in Saturday's win. Auburn also set an SEC game record with 545 rushing yards against Missouri.
SEC Championship Game Records
Broken By Tre Mason
|Most rushing yards||304|
|Most rush attempts||46|
|Most scrimmage yards||312|
|Most all-purpose yards||312|
|--ESPN Stats & Information|
Auburn, which was 3-9 a year ago and didn't win a game in the SEC, claimed the title in its first year under Malzahn. The Tigers didn't even need a dramatic finish to do it, holding Missouri scoreless in the final quarter while Mason notched two more TDs to break open a game that was close most of the way.
Missouri had its own impressive bounce-back after struggling its first year in the SEC. But coach Gary Pinkel's team was denied a quick championship in its new league after leaving the Big 12, unable to slow -- must less stop -- Auburn's dynamic offense.
"There's a real frustration that comes over you on defense when they're coming after you over and over and over again," Pinkel said. "We had trouble stopping it, obviously, and couldn't get it fixed."
James Franklin passed for 303 yards and three touchdowns, while Dorial Green-Beckham hauled in six passes for 144 yards and a couple of scores. Missouri piled up 534 yards -- the teams combined for 1,211 yards in a conference supposedly known for defense -- but it wasn't nearly enough against Auburn's hurry-up spread.
Coming into the game, Missouri was one of the top teams in the nation against the run and ranked second in the SEC behind Alabama. The most yards they had given up on the ground was 184 the previous week in a victory over 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.
Mason had more yards than that in the first half, putting up 195 by the time he trotted to the locker room and just 6 yards off the SEC championship game record. He broke the mark set by LSU's Justin Vincent in 2003 on the second play of the second half -- and kept right on going from there.
"I've never had holes that big to run through," Mason said, crediting the guys in the trenches. "No one expected 300 yards. I didn't expect it."
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Quarterback Nick Marshall shook off two early fumbles, one of which Missouri returned for a touchdown. He ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and passed for 132 yards and another score.
The lead changed hands seven times. Missouri's last gasp was Franklin's 5-yard touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion, that closed the gap to 45-42 heading to the final period. But Auburn dominated the final 15 minutes behind the play of Mason.
Late in the game, when Auburn had finally wrapped it up, Mason got a hug on the sideline from Auburn's greatest back, Bo Jackson.
"He's one of the better players ever to wear an Auburn helmet," Malzahn said, referring to Mason, not Bo.
"Thanks, coach," Mason said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... James Franklin's pass to Dorial Green-Beckham fell incomplete on fourth-and-goal from Auburn's 7-yard line with 1:46 remaining.
Gameball goes to... Tre Mason broke the SEC title-game record of 201 rushing yards set by Justin Vincent in 2003. Mason finished the day with 304, averaging 6.6 yards per rush.
Stat of the game... 545. Auburn ran for 545 yards on a defense that was allowing only 119 rushing yards per game. Auburn averaged 8 yards per play.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-12||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-3||1-1|
|FG||10:50||Andrew Baggett 42 Yd||3||0|
|TD||08:22||Sammie Coates 38 Yd Pass From Nick Marshall (Cody Parkey Kick)||3||7|
|TD||05:40||Dorial Green-Beckham 28 Yd Pass From James Franklin (Andrew Baggett Kick)||10||7|
|TD||04:09||Nick Marshall 9 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||10||14|
|TD||13:11||E.J. Gaines 11 Yd Fumble Return (Andrew Baggett Kick)||17||14|
|TD||10:25||Tre Mason 7 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||17||21|
|FG||07:19||Andrew Baggett 36 Yd||20||21|
|TD||06:26||Tre Mason 3 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||20||28|
|TD||00:18||Dorial Green-Beckham 55 Yd Pass From James Franklin (Andrew Baggett Kick)||27||28|
|FG||08:17||Cody Parkey 52 Yd||27||31|
|TD||05:35||Marcus Murphy 10 Yd Pass From James Franklin (Andrew Baggett Kick)||34||31|
|TD||03:21||Corey Grant 2 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||34||38|
|TD||00:31||Cameron Artis-Payne 15 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||34||45|
|TD||00:09||James Franklin 5 Yd Run (James Franklin Run For Two-Point Conversion)||42||45|
|TD||11:09||Tre Mason 1 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||42||52|
|TD||04:22||Tre Mason 13 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||42||59|
Individual SEC Championship Game records broken in this game: * Most rushing yards (Tre Mason, AUB - 304) * Most rush attempts (Tre Mason, AUB - 46) * Most yards from scrimmage (Tre Mason, AUB - 312) * Most all-purpose yards (Tre Mason, AUB - 312) * Most TD (Tre Mason, AUB - 4) * Most PAT makes and attempts (Cody Parkey, AUB - 8-8) * Longest FG made (Cody Parkey, AUB - 52 Yds)
Looks like this could come true again...[+]
Iron Bowl Past 5 Seasons
The most rush yards allowed by Missouri in a game in the last 10 seasons previously was actually 385 vs Navy in the 2009 Texas Bowl. Auburn has 396 with 3:21 remaining in the 3rd quarter of today's SEC Championship Game. Most Rush Yards Allowed Missouri Last 10 Seasons Opponent 2013 396<< Auburn 2009 385 Navy 2012 362 Alabama 2005 349 Texas 2010 328 Nebraska >with 3:21 remaining in 3rd quarter
Longest Active Streaks With At Least 1 Takeaway FBS Teams Missouri 43<< Stanford 36 Arizona St 27 UL-Monroe 26 >1 today vs Auburn
ESPN Stats & Information