Dec. 7, 2013
Auburn's Tre Mason strikes the pose on the way to 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
ATLANTA -- The guy who set SEC Championship Game records with 304 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns? The guy who made Heisman Trophy voters step back and look? The guy who ran his total to 1,621 rushing yards for the season.
The guy who willed Auburn to a 59-42 victory over Missouri on Saturday to give the Tigers their second conference championship in four years?
Not sure how Tre Mason really felt about his accomplishments. He was too busy complimenting his offensive line, fullback, quarterback and head coach.
"I told the guys I was not leaving Atlanta without a ring," Mason said.
"You're looking at one of the top running backs in college football, and he proved it again today," said coach Gus Malzahn
Bo Jackson, a former Auburn running back of note who was on the Tigers' sidelines, passed this on to Mason: "He was just telling me how much he loved me, how hard I ran," Mason said.
Mason's performance in the SEC title game was one for the record books. Just about the only concession Mason made to his performance is that he'd like to be considered for the Heisman Trophy. Maybe Saturday's performance will get him some votes. Maybe his rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns for the season will sway some voters.
More? His 304 yards were the second most in school history. His 304 yards were the third most in the nation this season. His 195 yards in the first half Saturday were more than Missouri had allowed any team all season. He broke Bo Jackson's single-season record for all-purpose yards, now up to 2,137.
Mason said he hopes he played his way into consideration.
"I'm sure that every kid that played football, that's one of their dreams," he said. "It's hard to describe, the feelings that I'm having right now."
Mason made it an SEC title.
"It almost brings me to tears. My mom, my dad, they always told me you can be as good as you want to be," Mason said.
Running backs coach Tim Horton watched as Mason got the ball, and got it again.
"You have to have toughness to you mentally and physically. He’s got it," Horton said. "It’s hard to get a clean hit on him. He’s not the biggest guy, but you don’t get a clean hit on him.
"He did great. He’s had a great, great year and capped it off with a big-time performance."
Missouri knew Auburn was going to run, just like Georgia did, just like Alabama did. It didn't matter to Mason, who set a school record with 46 carries; or to the Tigers in general, who finished with 677 total yards.
"We couldn't do without Coach Malzahn. Our O-line played great," Mason said. "This is a blessing to have those guys in front of me and having a coach like Coach Malzahn."
It was an exhausting game to watch, with lead changes and big plays that finished just under four hours. All the while, Mason was running with those 46 carries.
Was he tired?
"Not at all," he said. "I didn't even think about fatigue at that point in time." He instead followed his philosophy: "Just not quitting until the clock said zero."
Here are some notes about Tre Mason from Auburn:
Category Stat SEC/NCAA Rank Single-season rank
Rushing Yards 1,621 1st/6th 2nd at AU; 9th in SEC history
Rushing TDs 22 1st/3rd 1st at AU; 2nd in SEC history
All-Purpose Yards 2,137 1st/3rd 1st at AU; 3rd in SEC history
•1,621 rushing yards second-most in school single-season history behind Bo Jackson’s 1985 Heisman Trophy season (1,786 yards).
•22 rushing touchdowns are a school-record, breaking Cam Newton’s previous mark of 20 set during his Heisman Trophy season in 2010.
•22 rushing TDs are second-most ever in SEC history behind Florida’s Tim Tebow’s 23 in 2007 (Heisman Trophy winning season) and one more than Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012 (Heisman Trophy winning season) and Alabama’s Trent Richardson in 2011.
•Auburn single-season record-holder for all-purpose yards with 2,137, breaking the previous mark set by Bo Jackson in 1985 (1,859).
•In four games against Top 10 teams this season (Auburn 3-1), Mason rushed for 778 yards and eight touchdowns, an average of 194.5 yards and two TDs.
•In 9 games versus SEC opponents, has 1,289 yards rushing (143.2 ypg) and 17 touchdowns.
•Mason’s 304 rushing yards (on 46 attempts) in SEC Championship game were the most by an Auburn running back since 1944 when Curtis Kuykendall had a school-record 307 yards against Miami.
•Mason’s 304 rushing yards were the fifth most in SEC history and most since Arkansas’ Darren McFadden had 321 against South Carolina in 2007.
•Mason’s 46 rushing attempts against Missouri were a school record and second most ever by an SEC player (47 by Georgia’s Herschel Walker vs. Florida in 1981).
•Has rushed for 100-plus yards in five consecutive games and a rushing TD in 10 consecutive games.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine