Congratulations to the 2013 SEC Champions — the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers throttled Missouri 59-42 to cap off the biggest turnaround in college football. Here are a few takeaways from the game:
High-scoring affair: Isn’t it only fitting with what we’ve seen in the SEC for 2013 to have a shootout in the SEC Championship? The league has certainly taken a turn for offense, where defense used to be the moniker. Both teams combined for 101 points, 1,210 yards and 52 first downs. Simply unbelievable, and I was surprised by the lack of defense on the country’s biggest stage.
Auburn running game: Is there a team in college football that can stop it? Missouri had been solid all season and had only been allowing teams to rush for 119 yards per game, and they couldn’t sniff it. Auburn ran right through the top defense in college football in Alabama last week for almost 300 yards. The Tigers ran for 544 yards and seven (seven!) touchdowns against Missouri. Tre Mason and Nick Marshall get all the ink, but the Tigers’ offensive line was dominant, opening gaping holes against Missouri.
Tre Mason: Mr. Mason powered the Tigers for an SEC Championship Game record 303 yards rushing and punched in four TDs. Bo Jackson was watching on the sidelines, and he had to think Mason reminded him a little bit of himself. The only time Mason got tackled all night was by the referee. Did Mason do enough to earn a trip to New York for the Heisman? You have to think he did. What a performance!
Enough to persuade votes? This Auburn team is much better than the team that lost to LSU earlier in the season. Will 12-1 and SEC Champs be enough to persuade voters over an undefeated Ohio State? The Buckeyes are going to have to play some serious football tonight against Michigan State in order to not get jumped.
Missouri adjustments: For most of the night, Missouri played a three-man defensive front, and Auburn would just hit them on the outside for a big play every single time. When Missouri made an adjustment, they played a four-man front and brought their linebackers to the line of scrimmage and sold out to stop the run. And it worked, but Missouri continued to show its three-man front. And they paid for it. I was really surprised Dave Steckel didn’t throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Auburn’s rushing attack. At some point, you have to bring eight or nine into the box and just dare Marshall to throw it, right?
Special Teams: As anticipated, Auburn’s special teams made a huge difference. Punter Steven Clark kept pinning Missouri deep in their own territory, and place kicker Cody Parkey hit a career long 52-yard field goal. Also as expected, punt returner Chris Davis returned some nice punts to around the midfield range. Thanks to special teams, Auburn won the field position battle for most of the game.
DGB: What an animal Dorial Green-Beckham is. His coming out party was against Kentucky, and he torched Auburn’s secondary for much of the night. He caught six passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 24 yards per reception. Auburn did, however, play him strong down the stretch.
Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports