It will be a Battle of the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday when the Missouri Tigers (11-1, 5-0 away) take on the Auburn Tigers (11-1, 3-1 away) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA at 4:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Auburn as a small favorite for this contest with the current line at -2 with odds of -106.
Auburn is coming off of literally one of the greatest games in college football history when it upset Alabama 34-28 on a 109-yard return of a missed field goal on the final play of the game. While some may suspect a letdown here after a great win in a rivalry game like that, keep in mind that the winner of this game still has a chance to go to the BCS Championship Game should Florida State (unlikely) or Ohio State (possible) stumble this week.
That alone should keep Auburn motivated, not that it should take its fellow Tigers from Missouri lightly in any event. After all, Missouri has matched Auburn’s 11-1 record with the only Missouri loss coming in overtime 27-24 to a very good South Carolina team. Missouri has a very balanced offense, in fact much more balanced than Auburn, and it also has a stingy defense.
Still, while Auburn has primarily a one-dimensional running attack, its rushing is so good that it can win this game by itself. After all, not only does Auburn rank fifth in the country in rushing offense at 318.3 yards per game on 6.3 yards per run, but it may also be peaking at the perfect time as in the last three games, Auburn rushed for 444 yards vs. Tennessee, 323 yards vs. Georgia and 296 yards vs. Alabama, which many have been the greatest feat of all!
If Auburn can run like that vs. the stout Alabama defense, it can do it to anyone, even a fine Missouri rushing defense ranked 14th in the country allowing just 119.1 yards per game on 3.6 yards per carry. In fact, we think whoever wins the battle between the Auburn rushing offense and the Missouri rushing defense will win this game, and we give that edge to Auburn because Missouri has yet to face an offense quite like this.
If Auburn wins that battle as we suspect, it would also serve the dual purpose of taking time of the clock and keeping the Missouri offense off the field. That offense is ranked 17th in the country in total offense with great balance, averaging 236.9 rushing yards and 252.6 passing yards, which could create some matchup problems for an Auburn team ranked only 76th in total defense surrendering 414.2 yards per game.
Then again, Missouri faced a worse defense last week in Texas A&M and surprisingly scored only 28 points, but that was enough to earn the 28-21 victory that clinched the SEC East Division and enabled Missouri to make this trip to Atlanta.
One negative to take away from that win though was that while Missouri did a good job containing Johnny Manziel, the A&M running backs combined to rush for 144 yards on 18 carries for an unsightly 8.0 yards per carry. Mizzou is now facing another running quarterback in Nick Marshall, but the difference is that Auburn has a significantly better running back corpse than the Aggies do.
Thus, look for Auburn to control this contest with its terrific running game en route to an SEC Championship on Saturday before then becoming the biggest Michigan State fans in America!
College Football Pick: Auburn -2 (-106)