SEC Championship Game
(5) Missouri vs. (3) Auburn
4 p.m. ET, Dec. 7, Georgia Dome
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE:
Missouri: It's not sacrilege to say that the Tigers may have the best defensive line in the SEC. Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, Shane Ray and Markus Golden have each turned in big moments for Mizzou, who won the SEC East by a game over South Carolina. The Gamecocks were the only team to beat Missouri, taking them down 27-24 in double overtime in Columbia, Mo., but South Carolina lost to Georgia and Tennessee. And until Mizzou beat Texas A&M 28-21 Saturday night to ensure a trip to Atlanta, every win had been by two touchdowns or more.
Auburn: Do we even need to mention the craziness of the last two games? You're pretty familiar with the way that Auburn beat Georgia and beat Alabama, right? OK, good. These Tigers lost to LSU on the road, but are unblemished otherwise. Sure, there have been some close games -- Auburn has won six games within a possession -- but this team is getting all the breaks right now. And that's not a diss. You have to have things go your way in a great season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Marcus Murphy, RB, Missouri: Murphy was one of the nation's best kick returners last year. This year, he's struggled at times. A punt popped off his helmet against Florida. He dropped two against Kentucky. But as a running back, he's averaged almost seven yards a carry and has scored nine touchdowns. He hasn't reached the end zone as a returner this year. Does that change Saturday? If so, Missouri is in great shape.
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn: We all know how dynamic Marshall can be as a runner, but the key to Auburn's success may be his proficiency as a passer. Missouri's ends did a good job of containing Johnny Manziel last week, if they do the same against Marshall, he'll have to find holes in the Missouri coverage. He's only thrown for over 200 yards three times, and wouldn't have hit that mark against Georgia if it wasn't for that deflection to Ricardo Louis.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: These are two of the best rushing teams in the country, and they do it in different ways. Auburn runs more read sets with Marshall and Tre Mason, who has run for over 1,300 yards this season. Missouri mixes in some option too, but rotates Henry Josey, Murphy and Russell Hansbrough in with more designed run plays for them.
WHAT'S ON THE LINE: The winner of this game goes to the BCS Championship if either Florida State or Ohio State lose. So, not too much. If Auburn loses, it's probably headed to the Sugar Bowl. If Missouri loses, it's likely destination is the Capital One, Cotton or Outback Bowls.
PREDICTION: Here's another reason you should tune in. Will Auburn win via a crazy happening for the third straight game? We're going to say no. These teams are incredibly evenly matched and you can make a strong case for either. And we're going to go with the balance of the Missouri offense. 27-24. Missouri wins, and legions of Tiger fans become Duke and Michigan State loyalists for a night.
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