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University of Missouri

The Numbers Tell the Story

Auburn outruns Mizzou in SEC Championship.

Mizzou football SEC Championship

Mizzou senior linebacker Donovan Bonner (Dallas) tackles Auburn running back Corey Grant in the fourth quarter of the SEC Football Championship. Photo by Rob Hill.

The stat sheet always tells a story. Sometimes it gives away the ending.

Mizzou came into the 2013 Southeastern Conference Football Championship a confident bunch believing the strength of its run defense matched up well with the conference’s most potent running attack.

Averaging 318.3 rushing yards per game going into Saturday’s tilt at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta — spoiler alert — No. 3 Auburn posted an SEC title game-record 545 yards on 74 carries to finally wear out No. 5 Missouri 59-42.

During the first half, it appeared Mizzou had just enough offense — combined with its trademark, turnover-creating defense — to keep pace with Auburn. Junior defensive end Kony Ealy (New Madrid, Mo.) led the latter charge with a sack and two forced fumbles.

On offense, Mizzou sophomore wideout Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo.) hauled in six receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a 55-yard sprint to make it 28-27 Auburn at halftime.

Those two individual performances for Mizzou paled compared to that of the game’s MVP, Auburn’s Tre Mason. His 304 rushing yards set a single-game record for the SEC Championship and put him just three shy of the school record.

“I expected him to be a great player,” said Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel. “But you let a guy go through a gap like that at full speed, then you’ve got problems on the other end. Obviously, I’m a little disappointed in that.”

Mizzou fans and alumni who traveled through the icy and snowy Midwest couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling contest. The game set a record for combined points (101) in an SEC Championship, featuring seven lead changes through three quarters.

Missouri star junior running back Henry Josey (Angleton, Texas) set up the black-and-gold’s final touchdown with a 65-yard dash late in the third quarter to make it 45-42 heading into the final frame.

Mizzou senior quarterback James Franklin completed 21 of 37 passes for 303 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, but Auburn’s pace and power ultimately overwhelmed the Tigers from Missouri.

As the SEC season ends for the 2013 Missouri Tigers, Pinkel is confident the program is poised for success. Predicted to finish fifth in the SEC East Division after a dismal 5-7 record in 2012, Mizzou finds itself 11-2, heading into the 2013 bowl season, dreaming of a sunny destination.

“We wanted the SEC championship,” Pinkel said. “We’ve got to do better to win this game, and we didn’t do that. I feel responsible about that. I was excited about our program a year ago, and I’m excited to keep building it.”

See photos from Mizzou’s trip to Atlanta.