Dec. 1, 2013
Tre Mason celebrates with Auburn fans after the Tigers knock off Alabama (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. - Tre Mason fumbled and he didn't like it.
"I was filled with anger, but I knew I had to turn on the switch. Short-term memory. Let those things go. Try to make up for it."
Tre Mason made up for it, all right. He rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown and Chris Davis won the Iron Bowl with his 100-yard return of a missed field goal on the game's final play to lead Auburn to a 34-28 win and into the SEC Championship Game against Missouri on Saturday in Atlanta.
Auburn attacked Alabama's top-ranked defense for 296 rushing yards, finishing with 393 yards overall. Coach Gus Malzahn's will won out.
Mason continued to build his totals. He's up to 1,317 rushing yards this season. Auburn continued to build its totals, too, and is the runaway leader in rushing offense in the SEC.
The key to the game, besides the absolute heroics? Auburn was going to run. Alabama knew it. And Alabama couldn't do anything about it.
"Everybody played hard; played Auburn football," Mason said. "We ran the ball right at them. You've got to try to stop it, and if you can't, oh well."
Auburn didn't care what the critics said, that the Tigers were too one-dimensional, that they couldn't run on Alabama.
"You have to be comfortable going into a game like this. We executed our base stuff. The O-line played great," Mason said.
Mason, who rushed for a 1,000 yards last year without Malzahn, has talked up the coach's return to Auburn the whole way.
"I was recruited by Coach Malzahn, and when he came back, I knew what he expected: He expected nothing but excellence. We're going to give him what we've got," Mason said.
Auburn led 7-0. Trailed 21-7. Tied the game at 21. Fell behind 28-21. Tied it with 32 seconds left on a Nick Marshall touchdown pass. Won it on Davis' return.
"That's what we're supposed to do. When things go wrong, or they go really well, you've got to maintain your poise and continue to play football," Mason said.
After all of that, after back-to-back dramatic wins over Georgia and Alabama, after building an 11-1 record, Mason said, "we do feel we're the best team in the nation." Mason conceded there are unbeaten teams, too, but that the Tigers should be considered for the big game should they beat Missouri. "The future will tell that," he said.
And that fumble? Mason still had to answer to that with Malzahn, even if few words were exchanged.
"He really didn't say much to me, but I can see the look in his eyes. He was upset. I would be, too, if somebody put the ball on the ground in a game like this," Mason said.
And now it's the SEC Championship Game for Tre Mason and Auburn.
"We worked hard for this and we can't wait to get there."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter :Follow @AUGoldMine