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Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne is motivated... as usual
Dec. 31, 2014

Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne is ready to go in the Outback Bowl

By Charles Goldberg

TAMPA, Fla.  Don't think Cameron Artis-Payne is going to be overwhelmed to be on the same field with the nation's leading rusher Thursday. The Auburn running back is pretty sporty himself as the top rusher in the Southeastern Conference, and he's proven he's a big-time player when the spotlight has been on others.

The Outback Bowl matchup that features Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon and Artis-Payne is another chance to show his running back skill.

"I'm driven, period," Artis-Payne says. "I wasn't even supposed to be here. I didn't get recruited out of high school by D-II, D-III, nobody. For me to be here, I'm driven 24/7. Just because there's another great running back across from me, who is supposed to be the best, it's icing on the cake."

Auburn found Artis-Payne at a junior college in California, used him as Tre Mason's backup for the most part last season, and turned him loose on the SEC this season. He came in the bowl season leading the league with 1,482 yards.

Gordon leads the nation with 2,336 yards, a Big Ten record and the fourth highest total in big-time college football history.

Both running backs have, for the most part, shrugged off their meeting.

"This is a pretty much a business trip," Artis-Payne said.

To that end, facing Gordon will be just another day at the office.

"I'm always motivated," Artis-Payne said. "He's a great running back and they have a great team, but I'm going to do what t I do, and he's going to do what he does, and we're going to see who comes out with a win."

Artis-Payne has the fourth-best single-season rushing total by a running back in school history, trailing only Mason, Bo Jackson and Rudi Johnson. He has helped Auburn lead the SEC in rushing, as Gordon has helped Wisconsin to the top of the Big Ten rushing charts.

Gordon's numbers have drawn national attention. But Artis-Payne says, "I play football pretty well, if you ask me."

Gordon, like Artis-Payne, says he's focusing on regaining team momentum, especially after losing to Ohio State 59-0 in the Big Ten title game.

"We kind of lost that against Ohio State, and we need to get that back," he said.

Gordon says he hasn't tracked Artis-Payne's season.

"I don't follow too much with the SEC. I was kind of focused on the teams we were playing," he said.

As far as the matchup goes, Gordon said, "You always want to be the better back on the field. I don't watch the offense of Auburn, I don't really know how good he is. But if he's leading the SEC, he's got to be pretty good.

"We're definitely going to compete out there. It'd be crazy to say we aren't."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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