1. He doesn't need to throw to win.
Despite pedestrian passing numbers, Nich Marshall has led Auburn to the SEC Championshp Game. Gus Malzahn's offense has fit the run-first junior quarterback perfectly. Marshall leads SEC quarterbacks in rushing yards this season, running for 922 yards in eleven games. However, in five of Auburn's victories, Marshall threw for less than 100 yards. He needed just seven pass attempts and 35 passing yards in a 55-23 win over Tennessee, largely because the Volunteers let him run for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He completed just one pass against Florida Atlantic, but ran for 73 yards and a score. He threw for just 97 yards in last week's win over Alabama, but ran for 99 yards.
Auburn is fourth nationally in rushing, averaging 318 yards per game. Last week, the Tigers found success against one of the nation's best rush defenses. They will try to do it again in the SEC Championship Game -- Missouri is ranked 14th nationally in rushing defense -- and Marshall could be the key to that success.
2. He can throw it if needed, but the results aren't great.
If Mizzou does manage to shut down the running game, Marshall has shown he can let it fly. He went 23/34 for 339 yards and two scores in a win over Mississippi State. Marshall also threw for 236 yards and two scores on Texas A&M, 229 yards and a touchdown against Georgia, and 224 yards in a loss to LSU. If needed, he can certainly produce through the air.
Auburn's offense does not function as well when it relies on Marshall's arm, though. The Tigers have been held below 30 points twice this season, a 24-20 win over Mississippi State an 35-21 loss to LSU. Not coincidentally, those are the only two games this season in which Marshall attempted more than 30 passes. Marshall threw four interceptions in those two games, as well, and has only thrown one in the seven games since.
3. He's been to the Georgia Dome before.
Marshall will play for a championship at the Georgia Dome Saturday. It's not the first time for him. In 2009, Marshall led Wilcox County High School to a Georgia state championship on the same field. In typical Marshall fashion, it came on a comeback:
Though he led numerous fourth quarter comebacks while directing the Patriots' offense, none was more important than his rally in the state championship game. After Savannah Christian edged ahead 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Marshall came to the sideline - one of the few times during the game that happened, as the then-junior played both ways and rarely came off the field - to talk with Ledford.
In between the change of possessions, he delivered a simple message to his coach.
"He came over and said to me, ‘We're not losing this game,'" Ledford said. "And you could just feel it."
That feeling proved to have merit, as the Patriots outscored the Buccaneers 16-0 en route to a 30-21 victory.
Auburn might be a "team of fate," but Marshall apparently brings that fate with him wherever he goes.