Auburn didn't know it at the time, but all they needed to do Saturday was beat Missouri to clinch their place in the national title game. They did just that, emerging as the Top Tiger in a 59-42 shootout in the SEC Championship Game Saturday afternoon.
The game was close at halftime, with James Franklin's 55-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham with 18 seconds left putting Missouri within a point at 28-27, but Auburn's ground game simply ran away with it late. Tre Mason ran 46 times for 304 yards (an SEC Championship Game record) and four touchdowns, with two scores in the fourth quarter putting the game away.
College and Magnolia said Mason's tremendous performance was reflective of his entire season, and argued the running back merits serious Heisman consideration.
Tre Mason is what future Auburn football players should aspire to be. He works hard, never takes a play off, and simply gets the job done. He hasn't had a single Heisman "moment." He's had a Heisman season by breaking the will of opponent after opponent, five tough yards at a time. If 300+ yards rushing and 4 touchdowns don't get Tre Mason Heisman consideration, then you can melt the bronze statue down, fashion a sizable hammer out of it, and use it to beat your head with monotonous repetition
Rock M Nation said that Auburn's offense was incredible, but the real test will be how Missouri responds to the crushing defeat.
When mature teams get outplayed, they tip their collective cap and get ready for the next opportunity to make more plays than their opponent. Immature teams feel sorry for themselves and go on about what might have been. Often they lose focus and get beat again. That's the thing about competition. It can be harsh, but at its best it brings clarity. Missouri found out yesterday that it is not the best team in the country. Neither is Alabama. Neither is Georgia. Neither is Oregon. Each had reason to feel it might be this season and is dealing with the realization that it is not. How each deals will ultimately determine what kind of season this is.
Brandon Larrabee at Team Speed Kills said Auburn's historic season was made all the sweeter by their struggles last year.
Auburn has been through a valley since its 2010 national championship. It began with the 2011 season, an 8-5 campaign, followed by Gus Malzahn's exit and the disaster of 2012, when the Tigers went 0-8 in the SEC. And it ended when Auburn became the first team to go from winless one season to an outright SEC championship the next, and the only team to go from winless one year to any kind of title on the field. (Kentucky won a share of the SEC title in 1976 after an 0-6 season in 1975, but the Wildcats' record in their championship year included a Mississippi State forfeit.)
More from SB Nation college football:
Follow @SBNationCFBFollow @SBNRecruiting
• Final bowl projections, including games already locked in
• Ohio State’s worst fears confirmed in Big Ten title game
• Championship weekend scores and recaps
• College football news | FSU favored over Auburn by a touchdown