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2013 SEC Championship: #3 Auburn vs. #5 Missouri Preview and Prediction


2013 SEC Championship Game

Who: #3 Auburn Tigers (11-1, 7-1) vs. #5 Missouri Tigers (11-1, 7-1)

Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia

When: 3:00 p.m. CT (CBS)

All-Time Series Record: Missouri leads 1-0-0

Most Recent Meeting: Missouri 34, Auburn 17 (1973 Sun Bowl)

In the preseason, it was assumed the 14-team SEC was a six-team race. Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia all had aspirations of winning the SEC, but the rest of the league left a little to be desired. The narrative that the SEC West would come down to Alabama’s games against Texas A&M and LSU and the SEC East was going to be a three-way fight between the Gamecocks, Gators and two-time defending division champion Bulldogs was shared by almost everyone.

So, of course Auburn and Missouri will meet in the SEC Championship Game with a potential BCS National Championship spot awaiting the winner. Just as all of nobody expected, not even the fanbases on the Plains or in Columbia.

Both sets of Tigers have risen from the ashes of poor 2012 campaigns (Missouri was in their first year of the SEC and had a plethora of injuries, while Auburn was just terrible all around).

Gus Malzahn has breathed life into an Auburn program that was in poor condition in 2011 and 2012, leading the Tigers to the best turnaround in college football history. Auburn’s 34-28 win over #1 Alabama featured perhaps the greatest ending to a college (or American) football game ever and all but sealed some awards for Gus Malzahn.

Gary Pinkel is an experienced veteran as a coach, even though one could argue Gus Malzahn has more SEC head coaching experience (wink-wink, nod-nod). Pinkel is in his 13th year as the Tigers’ head coach, and though this is his team’s first SEC Title Game apperance, success is nothing new to him. This is Missouri’s 4th division title in the last seven years. In 2007, Missouri ascended all the way to #1 in the BCS heading into the Big 12 championship. Nobody should be surprised Gary Pinkel’s success has continued in the Southeastern Conference.

If Michigan State can upset Ohio State, the winner of this game will be in the BCS National Championship Game. Which Tiger will be in that position? Gus’s or Gary’s?

Starting Lineups:




Nick Marshall


James Franklin


Tre Mason


Henry Josey


Jay Prosch


Russell Hansbrough


Sammie Coates


Dorial Green-Beckham


Ricardo Louis


L’Damian Washington


Quan Bray


Bud Sasser


CJ Uzomah


Sean Culkin


Greg Robinson


Justin Britt


Alex Kozan


Max Copeland


Reese Dismukes


Evan Boehm


Chad Slade


Connor McGovern


Avery Young


Mitch Morse


Dee Ford


Michael Sam


Nosa Eguae


Matt Hoch


Gabe Wright


Lucas Vincent


LaDarious Owens


Kony Ealy


Robenson Therezie


Donovan Bonner


Jake Holland


Kentrell Brothers


Cassanova McKinzy


Andrew Wilson


Chris Davis


Randy Ponder


Ryan Smith


Matt White


Jermaine Whitehead


Braylon Webb


Jonathan Mincy


E.J. Gaines


Cody Parkey


Andrew Baggett


Steven Clark


Christian Brinser

Position-by-position comparison:

Quarterback: Franklin’s a polished passer and can move, but Marshall’s very electric. EVEN.

Running Back: These are the SEC’s best two rushing teams, but AU is the best at running. AUBURN.

Wide Receiver: DGB and L’Damian Washington are a scary duo. MIZZOU.

Tight End: C.J. Uzomah is one of Marshall’s best targets. AUBURN.

Offensive Line: Both pave the way and protect the QB, but Auburn’s O-Line is a dominant force. AUBURN.

Defensive Line: These are the SEC’s two best DLs. Can’t pick between Dee Ford and Michael Sam. EVEN.

Linebackers: Missouri’s linebackers are some serious tackling machines. MIZZOU.

Secondary: Both teams are vulnerable against the pass. This one’s a wash. EVEN.

Kicking: If not for a missed field goal, Missouri might be 12-0 right now. AUBURN.

Punting: Steven Clark downed two punts at the one against Bama. That’s incredible. AUBURN.

Auburn’s key to the game:

Be opportunistic on defense. Missouri has very tall wide receivers that can create match-up problems for Auburn’s secondary. Either Chris Davis or Jonathan Mincy will be covering Dorial Green-Beckham, and the one who isn’t covering DGB gets the honor of covering L’Damian Washington. Yikes. Ultimately, Auburn’s defense must make a play when it has the chance. Whether it’s falling on a fumble, picking off an ill-advised pass or getting a stop on third or fourth-and-short, Auburn’s defense must make some of the plays they have been making all year. There’s a reason Auburn’s defense gives up over 400 yards per game but is still considered relatively stingy; they’re opportunistic.

Missouri’s key to the game:

Be smart in coaching decisions and be sure to expose mismatches. Nick Saban is still taking a lot of heat for some of his decisions against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Gary Pinkel should be aware that Auburn’s football team can “survive in harsh conditions”, so to speak, and that any bold decision that can backfire might just backfire. If Missouri finds something that works, they should just keep doing it. If DGB continues to get open, keep throwing him the ball. If Henry Josey busts a few nice runs, don’t be quick to move away from the ground game.

Team Stats:

Team Stats

Auburn Tigers

Missouri Tigers

Offensive Points



Defensive Points



Total Offense



Pass Offense



Rush Offense



Total Defense



Pass Defense



Rush Defense



Turnover Margin



Interesting Facts:

This is Auburn’s fifth appearance in the SEC Championship Game (third-best in the SEC West behind LSU and Alabama). Auburn is 2-2 and has won their last two SEC Championship Game appearances…. Auburn is the designated home team in the SEC Championship Game. In its history, Auburn is 2-0 as the road team in the SEC Title Game but 0-2 as the home team…. This is Auburn’s fourth consecutive season in which it has played a game in the Georgia Dome. Missouri has never played in the Georgia Dome…. Against Alabama, Auburn ran for 296 yards while throwing for 99 yards. That’s both the most rushing yards and fewest passing yards ever gained by any team in a win over a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team…. 2013 is Auburn’s fourth outright/shared SEC West title in the last nine years. 2013 is also Missouri’s fourth outright/shared division title in the last seven years, as the Tigers played for the Big 12 Championship as Big 12 North champions in 2007 and 2008 and tied for first in the division in 2010…. If Michigan State upsets #2 Ohio State, the winner of this game would be in the BCS Title Game. That would result in either Auburn’s 2nd berth in the BCS National Championship Game in a four-year span or Missouri’s first-ever appearance in a BCS bowl, let alone the national title game. This is all hypothetical, though….

SEC Championship Game Prediction:

These two teams seem pretty evenly-matched. Both have ridden electric offenses and opportunistic defenses to the SEC Championship Game. These two teams will go back and forth. Auburn will, as usual, have success running the football, going for over 300 yards on a pretty stout Mizzou run defense. James Franklin, meanwhile, will have a big day, tossing for over 300 yards to his tall targets. Ultimately, I think Auburn will make a couple of crucial red zone stops and convert on their own red zone trips. This game, coupled with a Michigan State upset of Ohio State, will send the SEC champion Auburn Tigers to an improbable berth in the final BCS National Championship Game.

#3 Auburn Tigers 35, #5 Missouri Tigers 27

Other games:

Big Ten Championship: #10 Michigan State 31, #2 Ohio State 24 (I think Sparty’s offense will surprise a lot of folks and have success against the Buckeyes’ defense. BREAKING: Michigan State receives SEC invite.)

ACC Championship: #1 Florida State 49, #20 Duke 14 (Blue Devils have had a heck of a run, and this game won’t define their season. It also won’t be pretty.)

Pac-12 Championship: #11 Arizona State 30, #7 Stanford 24 (The Sun Devils are the hottest team in the Pac-12 right now. They’ll win the rematch against Stanford.)

MAC Championship: #16 Northern Illinois 38, Bowling Green 35 (Falcons are a good team, but Jordan Lynch might be in New York for the Heisman ceremony.)

Mountain West Championship: Utah State 45, #24 Fresno State 38 (Even without Chuckie Keeton, the Aggies are the better team in this game.)

C-USA Championship: Marshall 52, Rice 44 (Both offenses are strong, but Marshall’s is a little stronger.)

#6 Oklahoma State 42, #17 Oklahoma 14 (For the second time in three years, the Cowboys will crush the Sooners in Stillwater and clinch the Big 12 title.)

#9 Baylor 56, #25 Texas 28 (Baylor will get a share of the conference title, which is a real achievement for this program, but will likely not make a BCS bowl.)

#15 UCF 38, SMU 7 (Knights have already clinched a BCS bowl, but this team will still be hungry for its 11th win.)