Although fans were likely expecting different participants at the SEC Championship Game, the battle between Auburn and Missouri is certain to be a great one.
Auburn certainly comes in with the most momentum after defeating Alabama in dramatic fashion at the Iron Bowl, but Missouri has been just as impressive lately and certainly has as much of a claim to the conference title.
While this will be a competitive battle throughout, this game will come down to a few key factors. These statistics will especially be able to help decide the winner of the conference title game.
Nick Marshall Passing Attempts (Over/Under 20)
The majority of the country is just starting to realize how good Nick Marshall has been this season. He enters this game with 922 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns to go with efficient passing to help lead Auburn's offense.
While he has shown the ability to move the football through the air, the truth is that he is much better when used as a running quarterback. He and Tre Mason combine to make a dominant rushing attack that ranks fifth in the nation, and the Tigers have to utilize this strategy.
Therefore, Missouri must work on stopping the run and force Marshall to beat the defense through the air.
If the quarterback has to throw the ball more than 20 times, it creates a bigger chance of mistakes that could lead to game-changing turnovers. Considering Mizzou ranks ninth in the nation with 17 interceptions on the year, this is something to avoid.
Finally, it will also hurt the offense's ability to control the clock as it would with a strong rushing attack. Auburn instead has to stick with its regular strategy and keep the ball on the ground.
Dorial Green-Beckham Receiving Yards (Over/Under 60)
Senior L'Damian Washington has been the most consistent receiver on Missouri this season, but Dorial Green-Beckham might have the most talent. The sophomore receiver stands at 6'6" with great hands and the athleticism to get almost any ball thrown in his area.
Unfortunately, he has not been able to perform to his peak ability every week. In the last eight games, Green-Beckham has only topped 40 yards three times. Of course, one of those was a 100-yard, four-touchdown explosion against Kentucky.
On the other hand, the receiver only managed one reception for six yards in the team's double-overtime loss to South Carolina.
Auburn has an athletic group of cornerbacks that has already done a good job of slowing down some of the best receivers in the country. Washington will have to come through with a big game, but the offense will be almost impossible to stop if Green-Beckham and even Marcus Lucas play well.
There are a lot of weapons on this offense, but Green-Beckham is the X-factor in this game.
Auburn Defensive Sacks (Over/Under 3)
James Franklin is a mobile quarterback for Missouri, but he is still susceptible to getting rattled under pressure. With Missouri's passing attack so dependent on downfield plays, a dominant pass rush could derail the offense.
Unfortunately, this has not been a strength for Auburn, as the squad has only averaged 2.08 sacks per game this season, ranking 58th in the nation. Dee Ford leads the way with eight on the year, but he has not received much help in this department.
The Tigers' defense has to do a better job of getting to the quarterback, whether it is from the defensive line or with blitzing.
Otherwise, Missouri will have much too easy of a time moving the football and it will be able to simply outscore Auburn in this title game.
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