Dec. 8, 2013
Auburn celebrates its SEC championship Saturday night before moving to the BCS title game (Anthony Hall photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- It's official: The team that staged the biggest turnaround of the college football season crashed the BCS Championship Game party once and for all Sunday night.
Auburn, the surprise winners of 12 games, will play 13-game winner Florida State in the BCS title game in Pasadena at Rose Bowl Stadium on Jan. 6.
Auburn gathered as a team and cheered when the announcement was made on ESPN. But the cheers didn't last long, perhaps a carryover of Gus Malzahn's there-is-still-work-to-do philosophy.
Florida State is ranked No. 1. Auburn, unranked in the coaches poll through the first six games of the season, stormed up the rankings and will go into the game ranked No. 2.
Florida State and Auburn also finished 1-2 in the coaches, AP and Harris polls.
Auburn, the 2010 BCS champions, will try to become the eighth straight SEC team to win the BCS title.
The Tigers are coming off Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship Game 59-42 victory over Missouri in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Florida State beat Duke 45-7 for the ACC title.
Auburn won the 2010 BCS title when it beat Oregon 22-19 in Glendale, Ariz., when Malzahn was the Tigers' offensive coordinator. He had Cam Newton then. Now, Malzahn, the head coach, has tailback Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall running the show.
They have, offensively, combined for 4,403 yards and 45 touchdowns.
Auburn got to the big game with plenty of offense, and four last-minute wins, including highlight-reel finishes against Georgia and Alabama.
"The unique thing from my standpoint is this team finds a way to win, and it's really bizarre that how they complement each other -- the offense, the defense, special teams," Malzahn said. "When the pressure's on, our team's at the best, and it's been really something to be a part of."
Saturday's SEC title game was a breeze by comparison. The Tigers trailed in the third quarter, but took the lead late in the period and pulled away with two Mason fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine