I-A College Football
 
 
          === No. 3 Auburn runs all over No. 5 Missouri to win SEC ===
 
 Atlanta,  GA  (SportsNetwork.com)  -  Though its  national  championship  fate
 remains  undetermined, the  Auburn Tigers  sent  about as  strong a  statement
 possible in their final opportunity to make an impression on the BCS voters.
 
 Riding  a 46-carry,  304-yard, four-touchdown  effort from  Tre Mason,  Auburn
 sewed  up the  SEC title  and remained  in the  hunt for  a berth  in the  BCS
 Championship  Game with an emphatic 59-42 victory over Missouri at the Georgia
 Dome.
 
 Auburn  (12-1) racked up a whopping 536 yards on the ground in all en route to
 its third-ever SEC Championship Game victory and first since 2010, when it won
 the national title later that season behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback
 Cam Newton.
 
 Whether  the Tigers  will have the opportunity to extend the SEC's current run
 of national champions remains to be seen. Auburn entered Saturday's play third
 in  the  BCS standings behind  Florida State and Ohio  State, both of whom are
 playing in their respective conference title games later in the night.
 
 "We're  the  SEC champ. I  believe [the conference has]  won it the last seven
 years,"  said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. "We play the toughest schedule of
 any  of the  teams there, and we're  playing our best football. A lot of teams
 aren't getting better each week. This team is"
 
 Auburn,  which didn't  win a  single  game in  SEC  play a  season ago  before
 undergoing  the  biggest  turnaround  in league  history  in  Malzahn's  first
 year,  will be  guaranteed  a spot  in  the  Sugar Bowl  if  it finishes  back
 of the Seminoles and Buckeyes in the final BCS rankings.
 
 Nick Marshall added 101 rushing yards and a touchdown for Auburn, while adding
 132  yards  and a touchdown  through the air  while completing a crisp 9-of-11
 passes.
 
 Fifth-ranked   Missouri  (11-2)   received   301  passing   yards  and   three
 touchdowns  from  quarterback  James  Franklin,  who rushed  for  a  score  as
 well,  but its  usually  stingy defense  met  its match  in  an Auburn  spread
 attack that ran at will all throughout the afternoon.
 
 "They  didn't do  anything different than we expected, nothing," said Missouri
 head  coach  Gary Pinkel  afterward.  "  I think  you  give  them credit,  but
 certainly  we made a lot of errors. I think as their tempo kept cranking up, I
 think we probably didn't handle that very well, either."
 
 Dorial  Green-Beckham had  143 yards  and two  touchdowns on  six catches  for
 Missouri,  with Henry  Josey rushing for 123  yards on nine totes in the loss.
 Franklin completed 21-of-37 attempts and was intercepted once.
 
 Mason  obliterated  the previous SEC  Championship record for rushing yards en
 route  to earning game Most Valuable Player honors, with his total the second-
 highest single-game output in Auburn history.
 
 "You're  looking at  one of the top  running backs in college football, and he
 proved it again today," said Malzahn.
 
 Trailing 34-31 late in the third quarter, Auburn unleashed its prolific ground
 attack  to  produce three  straight  touchdown  drives  that put  the  Western
 Division champions in front to stay.
 
 Marshall  had arguably the  most important run of them all, a 42-yard jaunt on
 3rd-and-3  in  which he  faked out a  defender near the  line of scrimmage and
 scampered  all  the way  down to  the Missouri two.  Corey Grant  took it on a
 shotgun draw on the next play to put Auburn ahead 38-34 with 3:21 to go in the
 period.
 
 Auburn's  defense then  came up  with  a huge  three-and-out before  Malzahn's
 offense put together another gashing drive, churning out 54 yards in just five
 snaps  without a  pass attempt.  A  21-yard scamper  from Cameron  Artis-Payne
 placed  the ball back in the red zone, where Artis-Payne found an opening from
 15 yards out to extend the margin further.
 
 Missouri needed only three plays -- the first a 65-yard Josey run with a late-
 hit  penalty by Auburn's  Ryan White tacked on -- to pull closer on Franklin's
 3-yard  read-option keep  with nine  seconds left  in the  third quarter.  The
 senior  quarterback  ran in the  subsequent 2-point try  as well to get within
 45-42 entering the final 15 minutes.
 
 Once  again, Missouri's defense couldn't hold, though. Grant broke through for
 a 43-yard run and Marshall later found Trovon Reed for a 23-yard gain to bring
 on  a  1st-and-goal. Missouri was able  to force fourth down, but Mason wasn't
 denied  on  a 1-yard  plunge that  gave Auburn some  breathing room with 11:09
 left.
 
 Missouri's  next two drives generated little, with the second stopped on downs
 to  give  Auburn the ball at  the opposing 13-yard line. Mason promptly scored
 his fourth TD of the day to seal the outcome with 4:22 remaining.
 
 "When we needed it and the game was on the line, our defense stepped up in the
 fourth  quarter, got  us the ball back,  stopped them on fourth down when they
 went  for  it, and  helped us win,"  said Malzahn. "That's  kind of been their
 M.O."
 
 Auburn  owned a 28-20 advantage near the end of an offensively dominated first
 half, but Missouri entered the break with some momentum after a blown coverage
 resulted in Franklin's 55-yard touchdown strike to Green-Beckham.
 
 Cody Parkey knocked through a 52-yard field goal to put Auburn up 31-27 midway
 through   the  third   quarter,  before  Franklin  completed  four  passes  in
 orchestrating  a 7-play, 75-yard sequence he capped with a 10-yard delivery to
 Marcus Murphy that brought about the sixth lead change of the contest.
 
 Marshall's  fumble,  caused by a  strip-sack by  Kony Ealy on Auburn's opening
 drive,  led  to Andrew Baggett's 42-yard  field goal that started the scoring,
 but the dual-threat quarterback atoned for the miscue with a 38-yard touchdown
 connection with Sammie Coates on the following possession.
 
 Franklin  in  turn led  Missouri down the  field, with Green-Beckham's leaping
 grab  on  a 28-yard  deep post giving  the East Division  winners a 10-7 lead.
 Auburn  answered  under a minute later,  though, as a 54-yard catch-and-run by
 Coates got the offense in position for Marshall's 9-yard run with 4:09 left in
 the first quarter.
 
 Missouri's defense then came up with another big turnover, as Ealy knocked the
 ball  loose from Marshall  on a quarterback draw and E.J. Gaines scooped it up
 on  a  bounce before sprinting  11 yards for at  touchdown early in the second
 quarter.
 
 Auburn  countered by marching  75 yards in eight plays -- all but one of which
 were  runs -- on the ensuing drive, with Mason following a 16-yard scramble by
 Marshall  with a determined 7-yard effort into the end zone for a 21-17 Auburn
 edge.
 
 A  24-yard pass  from Franklin to Murphy helped set up Baggett's 36-yard field
 goal  that cut the lead to one, but Mason ripped off a 52-yard run on the next
 snap  from  scrimmage to get Missouri  deep in Auburn territory once again. He
 had  all  four touches  on the  brief series, the  last a  3-yard burst up the
 middle that put Auburn up 28-20 with 6:26 left in the half.
 
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Mason  finished just three yards short of Auburn's single game rushing record,
 set  by Curtis Kuykendall against Miami in 1944. LSU's Justin Vincent had held
 the SEC Championship record with 201 yards in 2003 ... Auburn's 59 points were
 the most by any team in the title game, bettering the 56 the Newton-led Tigers
 hung  on South Carolina in 2010. Malzahn was Auburn's offensive coordinator at
 the  time ...  The  West Division  winner  has  now taken  the  last five  SEC
 Championships  ... Auburn has won 88 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more
 points,  a streak  dating back  to 1996  ... Missouri  extended its  streak of
 forcing  at least one turnover to 43 straight contests, the longest active run
 in the nation.
 
 12/07 23:24:02 ET

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