- Cullman, Alabama

December 7, 2013

AUBURN NOTEBOOK: Focused Tigers run away with SEC title — literally

By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times

ATLANTA — There was no Iron Bowl hangover for Gus Malzahn's team.

Not even a pair of last-second, thrilling November wins over bitter rivals Georgia and Alabama could deter Auburn's quest for a championship on Saturday.

And while the outcome wasn't quite in hand until late in the fourth quarter, Malzahn and the Tigers certainly came to play against Missouri in the Georgia Dome.

Auburn's offense picked up where it left off against the Tide. Only on steroids.

The Tigers amassed 677 total yards — 545 on the ground — on the No. 14-ranked defense in college football in their 59-42 title-tilt victory.

Not too bad for a team that couldn't find the end zone a season ago.

Had it not been for a couple of ill-advised turnovers, it could have been more.

Tre Mason accounted for 304 of those yards, while quarterback Nick Marshall was good for 101 of his own. Throw in a couple of key runs by backups Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne — both of whom scored touchdowns — and that’s one heck of an offense to defend against.

"Right now, we can run the ball on anybody," Malzahn said after the game.

The first-year Auburn coach is well known throughout the coaching circle for his superior attention to detail and his tedious planning for each and every opponent.

That's certainly been this team's mantra in 2013.

One game at a time, one opponent at a time.

It's a simple adage that's paid dividends for the Tigers this season.

They are the state champions, the SEC champions and — with a little help — have a chance to be national champions once again.

% Big-Time Boot: When Cody Parkey connected on a 52-yard field goal early in the third quarter on Saturday, he etched his name in the SEC record book.

His 52-yarder was the longest in title-game history. It was also the senior's career-long in distance.

Although he missed a 54-yard attempt earlier in the game, Parkey’s kick had plenty of distance to carry had it been on line.

% In for the Long Haul: Sammie Coates is without a doubt Auburn's best deep threat in the Tigers' passing game.

On Saturday, the long-limbed receiver hauled in six passes for 94 yards, which included a 39-yard touchdown catch and a 55-yarder as well.

In doing so, Coates is now second in the nation in yards per catch with an average of 23.3. He trails Baylor's Tavon Reese (25.1) for the top honor.

% Bowl Bound: Auburn's win over Missouri has assured the Tigers a BCS bowl bid.

Assuming both Florida State and Ohio State pick up wins, Auburn will be headed to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, where its projected opponents are currently Central Florida or Oklahoma.

Both the Seminoles and Buckeyes were still battling it out with their respective opponents, Duke and Michigan State, at presstime.

% Jake Winfrey can be contacted at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at