Tre Mason Establishes Elite Status During Insane Win over Alabama

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIDecember 1, 2013

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 30:  Tre Mason #21 of the Auburn Tigers tries to avoid the tackle of Trey DePriest #33 of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Words simply cannot describe the incredible nature of the No. 4 Auburn Tigers' 34-28 win over the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. There was a 99-yard passing touchdown, a blocked field goal, a controversial game-tying passing score and a 100-yard field goal return for the game-winning score.

During the course of the game, Auburn running back Tre Mason established his status as one of college football's elite running backs.

Mason torched one of the nation's best run defenses for 164 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. He stepped up with a number of different third-down conversions, including two key runs on the Tigers' game-tying drive during the fourth quarter.

It all resulted in Mason moving past Bo Jackson on the list of single-season touchdown marks. Need I say more?

When you're mentioned in the same breath as Jackson and Cam Newton, you're doing something right.

Mason has been putting up strong numbers in each of his past two seasons, and this game is the culmination of it all. Not only is he one of the better players in the SEC, he's also developed into one of the top running backs in the nation.

At 5'10" and 205 pounds, Mason is a running back who's built to run between the tackles. As his frame fills out, he'll be an even more dangerous player when running for first downs or touchdowns out of goal-line sets.

He's done a magnificent job of that in 2013.

Mason is now up to 237 rushing attempts for 1,317 yards and 18 touchdowns. He's topped 100 yards rushing in each of his past four games, and seven of his most recent nine outings.

That includes games against the LSU Tigers, Texas A&M Aggies, Georgia Bulldogs and now the Crimson Tide. He's done this while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and mixing things up as a between-the-tackles runner and as an option-style weapon.

The latter part is what could hinder his NFL draft stock, but Mason is just as capable as any other player in the country when it comes to rushing in a traditional manner. Playing without traditional formations hurts his reputation, but he's an every-down back.

He's proven that over the course of the past two seasons.

Mason ran the ball 171 times for 1,002 yards and eight touchdowns during the 2012 college football season. He now enters the SEC Championship Game with 26 career rushing touchdowns.

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 30:  Tre Mason #21 of the Auburn Tigers runs the ball in the second quarter against Jarrick Williams #20 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Mason has thus become a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He'll need help to win it all, but the junior running back has managed to put up the dominant rushing numbers a true force requires.

It's now on Mason to improve upon his weaknesses.

For as strong of a player as Mason's become, there are still areas of his game that must be improved. The most notable area of weakness for Mason is as a receiver.

He currently has 10 receptions for 113 yards and no touchdowns in 2013. That's on par with his underwhelming production from 2012, when he caught seven passes for 86 yards and no scores.

To ignore Mason's greatness on the ground because of his woes as a receiver, however, would be an unnecessarily ignorant approach.

Mason has proven in 2013 that he's a consistently brilliant runner who is good enough to torch the nation's elite. His performance against the Crimson Tide was evidence of just how far he's come as a player.

Mason has now solidified his legacy as one of the game's greatest active players.


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