Tre Mason tops 300 rushing yards as Auburn wins SEC title

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn running back Tre Mason turned in a monster performance in the SEC title game Saturday.

ATLANTA -- Tre Mason ran for an SEC Championship Game record 304 yards, on an SEC title game record 46 carries, to lead Auburn to an 59-42 win over Missouri that may prove to put the 12-1 Tigers in the BCS National Championship Game since Ohio State fell to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.

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And a better-late-than-never push for the Heisman Trophy.

"I'll just say this, you're looking at one of the top running backs in college football," coach Gus Malzahn said. "And he proved it again today. So usually, the best players on the best teams have a chance at it, and you're looking at one of those guys right here."

With the performance, Mason now has 1,636 yards on the year with an SEC-best 22 touchdowns. The last running back to win the award, Alabama's Mark Ingram, finished that year with 1,658 yards and 17 scores, but had just 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns at the time he won the Heisman, before rushing for another 116 against Texas in the BCS national title game.

"This is a personal goal of mine," Mason said. "Everyone has goals of their own. It was always a dream, growing up, wanting to win the Heisman."

Auburn ran for 545 yards for the game as Nick Marshall and Corey Grant contributed 101 and 65, respectively, shredding a Missouri defense that entered the game with the league's second-ranked run defense. Marshall's decision-making on Auburn's zone-read option was nearly flawless, alternately giving the ball and pulling the ball based on a read of an unblocked defensive end.

In addition to Mason's huge rushing-yardage total, he also scored four touchdowns.

"You let a guy go through a gap like that at full speed, then you've got problems on the other end," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "You're asking your safeties and other people to make plays with him in space, and that's difficult. He had a lot of big plays. Obviously, I'm a little disappointed in that."

Missouri countered with a big-play passing attack to make for the highest-scoring affair in the 21-year history of the SEC Championship Game, as senior quarterback James Franklin threw for 303 yards and star sophomore receiver Dorial Green-Beckham caught six passes for 144 and a pair of touchdowns.

Mason, a junior, made a strong case for his NFL draft position late in the season, having rushed for five straight 100-yard games, including 164 against defending national champion Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.