Auburn’s Tre Mason (21) fights for extra yardage before getting tripped up by the Missouri defense during Saturday’s SEC championship game. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)
SEC Championship Game
Auburn and Missouri face off in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.
ATLANTA — Tre Mason struck a Heisman pose and got a hug from former Auburn great Bo Jackson after stating his case for the award with a record performance against Missouri.
The junior running back set a Auburn and SEC Championship Game record with 304 yards on 46 carries, scoring four times.
“This is a personal goal of mine,” Mason said of the Heisman. “Everyone has goals of their own. It was always a dream, you know, growing up, wanting to win it. I’m sure that every kid that played football, that’s one of their dreams. It’s hard to describe the feelings that I’m having right now.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn certainly thinks that Mason is worthy of Heisman consideration.
“You’re looking at one of the top running backs in college football and he proved it again. Usually the best players on the best teams have a chance at it and you’re looking at one of those guys right here.”
The four touchdowns Mason scored against Missouri gave him the Auburn record with 22 this season.
“Whoever has the hot hand, we go with,” Malzahn said. “He’s as tough as anybody and you can see that look in his eye. … He was a warrior. It was unbelievable.” “I didn’t even think about fatigue,” Mason said. “I wasn’t going to quit until the clock said zero.”
Saturday’s 22nd edition of the SEC title game can truly be considered one for the books.
And that was just after the first half.
OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but by intermission, both sets of Tigers had either reached or were approaching several different championship game records.
When the smoke had finally cleared, a total of 14 championship game records had fallen, among them:
• While Mason fell just 3 yards short of breaking Curtis Kuykendall’s 69-year-old record of 307 yards, his 304 yards shattered the 10-year-old game rushing record of 201 yards that had belonged to LSU’s Justin Vincent.
• Auburn’s 545 rushing yards broke the 350-yard mark set by Alabama just last year against Georgia, and its 677 total yards broke its own game record of 578 set in the 2010 win over South Carolina.
• Combined points: The 55 points the two teams totaled not only set a new championship game record for a half, but also was more than the combined total of 15 previous complete championship games.
By the time there were just 31 seconds left in the third quarter, the single-game record had fallen when Cameron Artis-Payne’s 15-yard touchdown had given Auburn a 45-34 lead.
The two teams finished with a combined 101 points, which broke the old mark of 75 set by Florida and Alabama in 1996.
• Combined yardage: Add in Missouri’s 534 yards and the two teams combined for 1,211 yards, bettering the old record of 937 set by Auburn and South Carolina in 2010.
• Longest field goal: The 52-yard field goal booted by Auburn’s Cody Parkey midway through the third quarter broke the previous record of 51 yards set by three other kickers — including former Georgia kicker and Collins Hill grad Brandon Coutou.
In addition, Parkey while a 54-yard attempt in the first half went wide, it was the longest attempt ever in a title game.
Additionally, Auburn set new championship game team marks for first downs (26), rushing attempts (74) and rushing touchdowns (7) and total offensive touchdowns (8).
Amidst Auburn’s championship celebration, two Tigers began to renew an old high school rivalry.
With Norcross and North Gwinnett set to square off on the same Georgia Dome field for the Class AAAAAA state championship next Saturday, former Blue Devil Ben Bradley and former Bulldog C.J. Uzomah are already talking up their team’s chances, even as they were answering questions about whether the Tigers deserve to be in consideration for the BCS Championship game.
“We deserve to be No. 1,” Bradley said. “We’re going to bring it home. Norcross High School is going to be in the Dome next week, and they’re going to bring it home. Go Blue Devils.”
Meanwhile, Uzomah has said that while he and Bradley intend to attend next week’s game, it is quite likely that some thing will be on the line to make things a little more interesting.
“We may make a friendly wager,” Uzomah said. “We’ll see what happens.”
In addition to his alma mater having regular-season bragging rights this season, Uzomah said he’s reminded Bradley of their own Region 7-AAAAA battles when they were in high school.
“The last time I played him, I ran him over,” Uzomah joked. “He said he doesn’t remember, but I think it’s because he had a little concussion.”
— Staff correspondent Guy Curtright contributed to this report