NCAA Game Summary - Missouri vs. Auburn|
(Saturday, December 7th)
Final Score: (3) Auburn 59, (5) Missouri 42
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Southeastern Conference's streak of
sending teams to the BCS Championship Game appears to live on, and the Auburn
Tigers showed themselves to be plenty worthy of the honor.
Riding a 46-carry, 304-yard, four-touchdown effort from Tre Mason, Auburn
sewed up the SEC title and likely earned itself a chance to play for a
national crown with an emphatic 59-42 victory over Missouri at the Georgia
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
The Tigers entered Saturday's play behind both Florida State and Ohio State
for the all-important top two spots in the BCS standings, but the Buckeyes'
34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship all but assures
Auburn a matchup with the Seminoles in Pasadena on Jan. 6.
"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 didn't win a single game in SEC play a season ago before
undergoing the biggest turnaround in league history in Malzahn's first
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
12/08 00:00:41 ET