“It’s been a unique experience,” Malzahn said after the game. “We had some growing pains and we had some tough times. We strained the dog out of our players in the spring, but this bunch came together and we are playing our best football right now.”
Auburn had a record-breaking night in the running game, finishing with 545 yards with five different backs getting carries.
Tre Mason led the Auburn rushing attack with a career-high 306 yards and was MVP of the game.
Mason was quick to give credit to his offensive line.
“The offensive line works their butt off everyday,” Mason said. “They opened up some of the biggest holes that I've ever ran through. It’s a blessing to have those guys in front of me.”
Mason surpassed his best single-game rushing performance in the first half alone with 195 yards. It was Mason’s eighth 100-yard rushing performance of the season, his fifth consecutive 100-yard game and 11th of his career.
The second half started off slow for both offenses, but picked up late in the third quarter.
The game went back and forth, but with 11:09 left Auburn was able to build a 10-point lead, and then cruise to the victory and the SEC Championship.
Auburn finished the night with 677 yards of total offense, and Missouri finished with 534.
The 101-point total was the highest point total in SEC Championship history.
While Malzahn was not pleased with giving up more than 500 yards, he said his team made plays when they needed to.
“First of all, you've got to give Missouri credit,” Malzahn said. “They got really huge receivers that can run. Their quarterback's one of the best in the league. Their running back is a phenomenal running back. But when we needed it and the game was on the line, our defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, got us the ball back, stopped them on fourth down when they went for it, and helped us win. That's kind of been (the defenses) M.O.”
Now, Auburn will wait and see if this win will be enough to put them in the BCS National Championship game.
Before the game Malzahn did not want to talk about whether his team should play in the BCS if they were to win the SEC Championship. Now that Auburn has won the SEC, Malzahn was much more willing to argue his team’s case.
“We're the SEC champ,” Malzahn said. “I believe (the SEC) has won it the last seven years. We play the toughest schedule of any of the teams there, and we're playing our best football. A lot of teams aren't getting better each week. This team is.”
If Ohio State or Florida State lose Saturday night, then no argument will be necessary. Mason said the team would be watching the scores very closely tonight.
“We're going to find a way to see the scores of those games, but we're just looking forward to our team getting better, how we're going to get better each and every day. God willing, we get into the National Championship.”