UPDATED: Joe Medley: Auburn needs to be in Pasadena, deserves it
by Joe Medley
Dec 07, 2013 | 3382 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tre Mason celebrates a touchdown against Missouri. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Tre Mason celebrates a touchdown against Missouri. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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The Auburn Tigers are SEC champs after beating Missouri 59-42 in a shootout Saturday in Atlanta. 3rd ranked Auburn and 5th ranked Missouri played the battle of the Tigers Saturday in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
The Auburn Tigers are SEC champs after beating Missouri 59-42 in a shootout Saturday in Atlanta. 3rd ranked Auburn and 5th ranked Missouri played the battle of the Tigers Saturday in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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ATLANTA -- Well, this Auburn team didn’t let down a week after winning the most dramatic and consequential Iron Bowl ever.

This Auburn team rushed for 296 yards against the SECs’ top run defense and, a week later, 545 against the SEC’s second-best run defense.

Unbelievable though it is to see a team go from a 3-9 finish one year to 12-1 and SEC champion the next, believe it. It happened, and it’s time for the rest of the country to believe in this Auburn team.

Miracles happen once, maybe twice, and did two games in a row for the Tigers, but their SEC championship is no miracle. Auburn deserves a shot to play for a national title, and it looks like the Tigers will get that shot.

Auburn did it’s part Saturday. The BCS’s third-ranked team amassed 677 total yards en route to beating BCS No. 5 Missouri 59-42 in the Georgia Dome.

As of the BCS standings going into Saturday’s games around the country, Auburn has beaten No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Missouri, No. 22 Georgia and No. 24 Texas A&M.

Problem was, the Tigers had one bad half at No. 15 LSU, losing 35-21 after falling behind 21-0 on Sept. 21. The one bad half it took this Auburn team to realize its strength after two years of suffering blowouts against teams like LSU doomed the Tigers to their one loss.

BCS No. 1 Florida State didn’t have a loss going into Championship Saturday and beat Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference final.

BCS No. 2 Ohio State didn't have a loss going into Saturday, either, but lost 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten final, likely opening a spot for one-loss Auburn to slide into the top two in the BCS standings.

It looks like Florida State and Auburn will play in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6, and that’s how it should be.

This Auburn team has already beaten a Florida State-like team in Alabama. It will be intriguing to see how the Tigers could do against Florida State.

The Seminoles entered Saturday 13th nationally against the run. Alabama was 10th and Missouri 14th, so why wouldn't Gus Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle offense work against Florida State?

It's only just that we'll get to find out. Auburn deserves to be there, and the BCS final needs Auburn there.

With dominating offense like it showed against Missouri on Saturday, Auburn captured the imagination of college football insiders who can no longer scoff at Malzahn’s offense or others like it.

With miraculous finishes like the “Miracle in Jordan-Hare” against Georgia and Chris Davis’ 100-yard return of a missed field goal on the final play against Alabama, Auburn granted the wish of a national columnist who literally begged it to deny Alabama a third straight national title and fourth in five years.

Three years after the nation outside the Auburn fan base seemed disgusted to see Auburn playing for a national title amid the NCAA probe of Cam Newton's recruitment, the Tigers have an argument to be considered America’s Team.

Maybe, just maybe, it took these Tigers to get the nation over SEC fatigue, the result of league teams winning the past seven BCS titles.

Is there a more compelling story than Malzahn, who was a high school coach less than a decade ago but led Auburn to the SEC title a year after the Tigers’ worst season in 60 years? Now that you’ve done it Gus Malzahn, where are you going?

To Waffle House, of course, and isn't that just perfect?

There are no Waffle Houses in Pasadena. If Auburn wins in Pasadena, then Malzahn would have go to Phoenix for a ham-and-cheese omelet.

Still, Auburn needs to be in Pasadena, and Pasadena needs Auburn.

The Tigers are deserving SEC champions, after all. It took a break or two around “Amen Corner” to get there, but what special season doesn’t feature a survival game?

Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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