An Electric Evening in Atlanta!
The Tigers set records in an SEC Title Game win in 2013
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, we’ll take a look back to a magical game, when Auburn last won the SEC title. Not much was expected of the Tigers in 2013 after the team had lost all 8 of its conference games the year before. The average score of SEC games in 2012 was Opponent 34, Auburn 10. It was the worst season in at least 6 decades.
The 2013 team did not start off winning big. Close victories over Washington State and Mississippi State preceded a trip to LSU, where Auburn did not look ready for prime time, falling behind 21–0 in the first half. Auburn battled back but lost 35–21 to LSU. From there, Auburn ran the table through the regular season. Auburn was able to hold off Ole Miss and dominate the 4th quarter against Texas A&M on the road. A win over Arkansas followed on the road, when Auburn did not play its best game. November saw back-to-back-to-back games against Tennessee in Knoxville, Georgia, and Alabama.
In Knoxville, an incredible special teams day propelled Auburn to a 55–23 win. Auburn dominated Georgia at home for much of the evening, then blew a 37–17 lead in the 4th quarter. Then, the Miracle in Jordan Hare happened. A last ditch 4th down pass with less than a minute left was tipped around by 2 Georgia defenders and landed in the hands of Ricardo Louis, who took it in for a 73-yard touchdown. Auburn held on, 43–38. The next week, Alabama visited. The Tide built a big lead, but Auburn battled back, tying the game at 28, late. Using draw plays, Alabama positioned itself for a last second 56-yard field goal attempt. It fell a yard short, and Auburn’s Chris Davis ran himself into history, taking the miss the length of the field for the winning touchdown in the Kick Six.
Just one year removed from a last place finish, Auburn was 11–1 and Western Division Champions. The SEC East was won outright by the Missouri Tigers in just their second season. They also finished the regular season with just 1 loss. It was a cool, gray day in Atlanta on December 7, 2013. A sparse Missouri crowd was expected, but there were actually a pretty good number in attendance, having driven through an early season snow storm to arrive in Atlanta.
Game recap, after the jump!
Auburn won the toss and deferred to the 2nd half. The game started out sputtery with Mizzou quickly going 3 and out, then Auburn lost the ball after 4 plays on a sack fumble by quarterback Nick Marshall. Missouri broke one run for a first down only to bog down, and Andrew Baggett kicked a 42-yard field goal for a 3–0 Missouri lead.
Auburn answered with 6 straight runs, picking up a first down in Missouri territory. Nick Marshall scrambled around in the pocket, then stepped up and fired a rocket to receiver Sammie Coates for a 38-yard touchdown. After the PAT by Cody Parkey, Auburn led Missouri 7–3.
Missouri started ripping off double-digit chunks of yardage, mostly through the air. On the 7th play of the drive, James Franklin found Dorial Green Beckham for a 28-yard touchdown. A PAT later, Missouri led Auburn 10–7.
Auburn opened its next possession with a tunnel screen to Sammie Coates, who was off and running for 54 yards. Auburn bashed the ball on the ground inside the 10, and Nick Marshall kept the ball for a 9–yard touchdown run. The PAT by Parkey made the score 14–10 Auburn, still in the first quarter. Auburn was able to successfully execute an onside kick, but did not score with it as the drive ended with a missed field goal attempt from 54 yards.
Missouri ended the first quarter by moving the ball on the ground until a false start on the last play of the period backed up the Tigers to the Auburn 25. The drive ended when Jermaine Whitehead intercepted the ball at the Auburn 9-yard line. Auburn opened with a holding penalty, then 3 plays later Nick Marshall was stripped of the ball, and Missouri’s E. J. Gaines rumbled 11 yards for a Missouri touchdown. Missouri led after the score, 17–14.
Auburn began another drive with a 5-yard pass to Sammie Coates, Then, the Tigers ripped off 7 straight running plays with the last one ending up in the Missouri end zone, on a 7-yard Tre Mason run. Auburn had retaken the lead, 21–17.
Missouri answered with a 9-play drive. The drive stalled at the Auburn 17, and Andrew Baggett connected on a 36-yard field goal. With 7:19 left in the half, Auburn still led, 21–20.
Auburn stayed on the ground, opening with a sweep to Tre Mason, who took it 52 yards into Missouri territory. Auburn bashed Mason up the middle 3 more times and made a 3-yard touchdown. Parkey’s kick gave Auburn a 28–20 lead.
Missouri then went 3 and out and had to punt. Auburn drove it again into Mizzou territory, but after a holding penalty and tunnel screen that lost yardage, Auburn’s Stephen Clark came in. Clark’s punt was fair caught at the 8.
Auburn could not hold Missouri in the waning minutes of the half, giving up a 55-yard bomb from James Franklin to Dorial Green Beckham with just 18 seconds left in the half. Missouri again kicked the PAT, and Auburn led, 28–27. The first half ended with Auburn taking a knee.
Auburn got the ball in the 2nd half after a touchback. Auburn moved the ball up near midfield, but with a substitution infraction, the drive stalled, and Steven Clark had to punt. It was fair caught at the 7.
Missouri started its drive with back-to-back false starts. Auburn seemed to have a stop, but a pass interference flag on Robenson Therezie kept the drive alive. The Auburn pass rush then forced 3 straight incompletions, and Missouri had to punt.
A 14-yard return by Chris Davis set up Auburn at the Missouri 49-yard line. Auburn bashed Tre Mason right at Missouri, picking up 1 first down, but the drive stalled. Cody Parkey came in and drilled a 52 yard field goal. Auburn led Missouri, 31–27.
Missouri came out firing and moved the ball at will on Auburn. Franklin found Marcus Murphy for a 10-yard touchdown. After the PAT, Missouri led Auburn, 34–31.
Auburn came right back, running the zone read, and the Missouri defense started to wilt. A big Nick Marshall scramble went out of bounds at the Missouri 2-yard line. On the next play, Corey Grant bashed in for the touchdown. Parkey kicked the PAT, and Auburn was back in front, 38–34.
Missouri went 3 and out, aided by a false start penalty. Chris Davis again set up the Auburn offense with a 22-yard punt return up near midfield.
Auburn’s Tre Mason bashed 3 times for a first down then took a rest. Cameron Artis-Payne then had runs of 21 and 15 yards, the second one resulting in a touchdown. Auburn was out to a 45–34 lead over Missouri.
The 3rd quarter scoring was not over, yet. Auburn promptly gave up a 65-yard run by Henry Josey, and James Franklin capped the drive with a quarterback keeper. Franklin also made a 2-point conversion attempt. Auburn led Missouri, 45–42.
Auburn ended the 3rd quarter by giving the ball on the sweep to Corey Grant, who got loose for a 43-yard gain. Auburn drove the ball from there. A key 3rd-and-8 pass from Nick Marshall connected with Trovon Reed inside the 10. Tre Mason scored again from close range, and Parkey’s PAT made the score 52–42.
Trailing by 10 points, Missouri would go 3 and out. Auburn moved the ball near midfield but stalled out as well. Steven Clark’s punt pinned Missouri back on its own 4-yard line. Three Mizzou plays netted 9 yards. With just 4-and-a-half minutes left in the game, Missouri felt compelled to go for it on 4th and 1. A slant pass went incomplete, and Auburn took over at the Missouri 13. The Tigers iced the game on the next play. Tre Mason popped through for a 13-yard touchdown, and Auburn was out to a 59–42 lead.
James Franklin tried to put together a heroic drive, but it ended up dying at the Auburn 7-yard line on a missed 4th-down pass. Auburn gave the ball to Tre Mason 2 more times, giving him a total of 46 carries for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. Auburn was able to run the clock down and took a knee to end the game. Auburn beat Missouri, 59–42.
The game remains the highest scoring SEC Title Game in history, and Auburn’s 59 points remains the highest score in the title game by one team. As a team, Auburn rushed for 545 yards with quarterback Nick Marshall tallying 101 rushing yards and 132 passing yards on 9 of 11 attempts. Auburn generated 677 offensive yards in the ball game, and the two teams combined for 1,211 offensive yards.