The BCS No. 3 Auburn Tigers grounded and pounded No. 5 Missouri 59-42 in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, and it resulted in star running back Tre Mason racing into the record books.
Mason broke the SEC Championship's single-game rushing record early in the third quarter, eclipsing the mark of 201 set by LSU's Justin Vincent in 2003. CBS Sports' Eye on College Football Twitter account revealed the exceptional achievement:
Tre Mason now at 207 yards rushing, a new SEC Championship Game record, breaking LSU's Justin Vincent's previous mark.— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) December 7, 2013
As Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated noted, the prolific junior nearly set the new standard in the first half on 23 carries:
Tre Mason has 194 yards in the first half. Auburn 37 rushes for 283 yards in the first half.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 7, 2013
Times Free Press reporter Patrick Brown added to that:
And that wasn't the only history Mason made in the opening portion of this high-stakes showdown. ESPN Stats & Info points out how Mason passed the legendary Bo Jackson for most total yards in a season by an Auburn player:
In the 1st qtr today, Tre Mason passed Bo Jackson (1985) for the most all-purpose yards in a single season in Auburn history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 7, 2013
Mason finished with an incredible 304 yards on 46 carries and four touchdowns—including the final one with 4:22 remaining that put any Missouri comeback bid to bed. He won the game's MVP award, too.
Despite how formidable the opposing Mizzou defense has been at times this season, Auburn did not stray from the running game, and it paid huge dividends.
There was nothing the underdogs could do in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, as Gus Malzahn's Tigers imposed their will and let Mason be the workhorse driving one of the country's premier rushing attacks to raging success in the first half.
ESPN College Football's official Twitter highlighted just how heavily Auburn relied on the running game to get the job done in the early going:
Mason capped off both of those second-quarter touchdown drives with trips to pay dirt from seven and nine yards out respectively. This marks the fifth consecutive game in which Mason has gone over 100 yards, and leaves him with only one game all season without at least one touchdown.
B/R's Adam Kramer felt Mason's extraordinary performance was something grounded in virtual reality—surely not the SEC Championship Game:
Tre Mason, video game cheat code.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) December 7, 2013
But this really happened, and it was an emphatic statement by Auburn that its high-octane offense wasn't going to suffer a letdown after its epic Iron Bowl victory over Alabama. The physical tone was set early, and Mason was the featured star.