The Auburn Tigers are the 2013 SEC Champions. What an incredibly surreal sentence to type out. This cannot possibly be reality, and yet it surpasses what any of us dared to dream at the season's advent. There will be a time and a place to debate the merits of one team over another for this bowl game or that, but now is not that time. Now is the time for Auburn fans to simply appreciate how far this team has come in the span of twelve months. After a dismal 2012 season that saw Auburn go winless in the conference slate, the Auburn Tigers defeated the Missouri Tigers by a score of 59-42 to win the whole damned thing. That just happened.
Some random thoughts and notes from the Tigers' big win:
- Tre Mason is what future Auburn football players should aspire to be. He works hard, never takes a play off, and simply gets the job done. He hasn't had a single Heisman "moment." He's had a Heisman season by breaking the will of opponent after opponent, five tough yards at a time. If 300+ yards rushing and 4 touchdowns don't get Tre Mason Heisman consideration, then you can melt the bronze statue down, fashion a sizable hammer out of it, and use it to beat your head with monotonous repetition.
- You can't mention Tre Mason without mentioning the Auburn offensive line. These guys have been nameless heroes all season, despite being the reason for the offense's success. How good were they? Take away all of Tre Mason's rushing yards, and they still would have paved the way for about 250 yards. Simply incredible.
- Nick Marshall continues to make all of the right decisions. He has improved every single game and his mastery of the offense culminated tonight as he made the right read over and over again. Yes, his early fumbles hurt- but he is the leader of this squad. We are lucky to have him.
- On a night when the Auburn secondary was abysmal, the defensive line had their best game. Missouri quarterback James Franklin played a hell of a game, but he was pressured all night long by Dee Ford and company. If this line is clicking, it hides a lot of holes on the defensive side of the ball.
- Steven Clark has had the best two game stretch for a punter ever. I don't care what any statistics say to suggest otherwise. Given the gravity of these two games, his constant peppering of the 5 yard line played an incredibly important role.
- Gus Malzahn deserves every damn penny of his new contract. Hell, give him another raise tonight. Many of us were nervous about how our Tigers would respond after two emotional wins, and he had these guys as focused as they have been at any point in the season. I don't think there is any way to quantify what he has done for this program in one short year.
- The BCS will do what the BCS will do. Regardless of what does or doesn't happen on that front, the 2013 Auburn Tigers are one of the most special athletic teams that you will ever see grace the Plains. Title game or not, hold your head high.
War Damn Eagle!