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December 8, 2013

Mason, Auburn states their case for title game

ATLANTA (AP) — Tre Mason struck a pose — a Heisman Trophy pose.

There’s something the Auburn Tigers running back wants even more than an individual award.

A shot at the national title.

Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 3 Auburn to a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri in a Southeastern Conference title showdown yesterday that looked more like a video game.

Auburn (12-1) kept alive its hopes of playing for the national championship, though the Tigers would likely need either top-ranked Florida State or No. 2 Ohio State to lose in their respective conference title games, which began about the time Auburn was wrapping up the shootout at the Georgia Dome.

“We won the SEC championship,” receiver Sammie Coates said. “What else do you want us to do?”

Added Mason: “We feel like we beat the best teams .... We feel like we deserve to be in the game.”

The Auburn players headed off to watch the games that could decide their fate, the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in Charlotte, N.C., and the Big Ten title contest in Indianapolis. If Auburn misses out on the big game, it will head to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC champion.

Missouri (11-2) should be in the mix for a New Year’s Day bowl, with the Capital One, Cotton and Outback games among the possible destinations.

“We’re playing our best football right now,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, making his pitch for a trip to Pasadena. “I don’t know if any other team can say that.”

Auburn is certainly playing its best offensively. The Tigers set an SEC championship record with 677 yards, including 545 on the ground.

Mason had scoring runs of 7, 3 and 1 yards before bursting up the middle on a 13-yard TD that clinched the victory with 4:22 remaining. He carried the ball a staggering 46 times, an easy choice as the game’s MVP. He celebrated by breaking out the familiar Heisman pose, his longshot candidacy getting a huge boost.

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