Auburn’s miracle season continued without needing divine intervention to help it out this time.
It just needed running back Tre Mason.
Mason rushed the ball 46 times for 304 yards and contributed four touchdowns in a 59-42 win against Missouri that earned Auburn an SEC title and a spot in a BCS bowl that could very well be the national championship game (pending the outcome of the ACC and Big Ten title games).
The win also completed an unbelievable single-season turnaround by the Tigers, who were sitting at home watching this game a year ago after a 3-9 campaign and the dismissal of head coach Gene Chizik.
But all year, especially in the past few weeks, Auburn has seemingly been a team of destiny. Last-second wins against Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama put the Tigers into the SEC championship, but its solid running game pulled the Tigers out winners.
Behind Mason, Auburn moved the ball at will against Missouri. Of Auburn’s 677 total yards, 525 were on the ground. Auburn only attempted 11 passes. Coming into this game, Missouri had not allowed a team to rush for more than 184 yards and that was last week against Texas A&M.
Mason even struck the Heisman pose following his final touchdown and said following the game it would be a dream to get to the ceremony in New York. Prior to Saturday’s performance, Mason wasn’t really in the Heisman talk, but with so many players shuffling in and out of the conversation in the past few weeks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mason get an invite as a knee-jerk reaction. Mason has 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.
While the offense had its way with Missouri, Auburn’s defense could have cost it the game. Missouri had 534 total yards and went toe-to-toe with Auburn until the fourth quarter. But when stops needed to be made, Auburn's defense came through and Missouri’s didn’t.
Now Auburn must wait to learn its fate. It’s guaranteed a BCS bowl game, but which game is the big question. Following the game, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn’t campaign for a spot in the national championship, but did note that his team just won what many consider to be the nation’s toughest conference.
Auburn will know its national championship fate before the end of the night.
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