Auburn running back Tre Mason strikes the Heisman pose after scoring a touchdown against Missouri Saturday. Mason ran for 304 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Tigers’ SEC Championship game win.--Todd Van Emst
Auburn running back Tre Mason strikes the Heisman pose after scoring a touchdown against Missouri Saturday. Mason ran for 304 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Tigers’ SEC Championship game win.-- Todd Van Emst

Auburn wins SEC, likely to play for national title

Published 12:31am Sunday, December 8, 2013

ATLANTA (AP) — Tre Mason struck a pose — a Heisman Trophy pose.

There’s something the Auburn Tigers running back wants even more than an individual award.

A shot at the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 3 Auburn to a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri in a Southeastern Conference title showdown Saturday that looked more like a video game.

Auburn (12-1) kept alive its hopes of playing for the national championship and then watched as No. 2 Ohio State fell to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship, which likely paved the way for the Tigers to play Florida State in the national championship game.

If that’s the case, it won’t be official until the final BCS standings are revealed Sunday afternoon.

“We won the SEC championship,” receiver Sammie Coates said. “What else do you want us to do?”

Added Mason: “We feel like we beat the best teams. … We feel like we deserve to be in the game.”

Missouri (11-2) should be in the mix for a New Year’s Day bowl, with the Capital One, Cotton and Outback games among the possible destinations.

“We’re playing our best football right now,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, making his pitch for a trip to Pasadena. “I don’t know if any other team can say that.”

Auburn is certainly playing its best offensively. The Tigers set an SEC championship record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground.

Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, an easy choice as the game’s MVP. He celebrated by breaking out the familiar Heisman pose, his longshot candidacy getting a huge boost.

“You’re looking at one of the top running backs in college football,” Malzahn said. “He was a warrior today. Unbelievable.”

In a game where neither team played a lick of defense, Auburn finally stopped Missouri on fourth-and-1 deep in its own territory, setting up Mason’s final score. Chris Davis broke up the pass, not quite as thrilling as his 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama, but another huge play for the nation’s biggest turnaround team.

Auburn, which was 3-9 a year ago and didn’t win a game in the SEC, claimed the title in its first year under Malzahn.

The Tigers didn’t even need a dramatic finish to do it, holding Missouri scoreless in the final quarter while Mason notched two more TDs to break open a game that was close most of the way.

Missouri had its own impressive bounce-back after struggling its first year in the SEC. But coach Gary Pinkel’s team was denied a quick championship in its new league after leaving the Big 12.

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