Going into the game, the Auburn Tigers needed to win convincingly to make their case to go into the BCS Championship game as a one-loss team. With the only two unbeaten teams remaining playing after them in Florida State and Ohio State, they needed to make a statement against Missouri.
Auburn started former cornerback Nick Marshall at quarterback, and relied on his legs. They also looked to junior running back Tre Mason. Mason may be the least talked-about star in the country when it comes to the Heisman conversation.
Going into this game, Auburn’s four toughest games were LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. Mason rushed for over 100 yards in each game and a TD. Last week in the upset over no. 1 Alabama, Mason finished with 29 carries for 164 and a TD. He finished the season with over 1600 yards rushing and 22 TDs.
Missouri’s game plan was to stop Mason and Marshall from running and force them to throw the ball. What ended up happening was one of the best rushing games in the history of Auburn football. As a team, they got off 85 plays on offense and 74 of them were runs. They held the ball for almost 35 minutes and and out-gained Missouri by almost 150 yards.
Mason ran the ball an astounding 46 times for 304 yards and four TDs. Marshall carried the ball 16 times for 101 yards and a TD. Last week, Missouri held defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel to 21 yards on 11 carries and no scores. After holding that dual-threat QB to a mediocre game, Missouri struggled to prevent Auburn from running the ball. As a team, Auburn finished with 74 carries for 545 yards and seven rushing TDs.
The 59-42 victory showed the nation that they are a terrifying team on offense, but not so much on defense.
Auburn gave up over 500 yards of offense to Missouri, who doesn’t have nearly the offensive talent that Florida State does. With Ohio State losing in the Big 10 Title game, it sets up Auburn to play FSU in the National Title game. Florida State is no. 1 in the country in points allowed and no. 2 in points scored. They are also one of the most balanced teams in the country, averaging over 320 yards through the air and over 200 yards per game on the ground.
The game plan seems to be simple — Auburn has to run the ball and control the clock to keep Florida State off the field.