Auburn Runs To Pasadena; Robinson Eyes NFL
By Dan Harralson
The BCS championship game is set and will be played at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6
Auburn will face No. 1 Florida State, a 45-7 winner over No. 20 Duke in the ACC championship game.
Auburn continued its running dominance with 545 yards on the ground against Missouri. Auburn has totaled a school-record and nation's best 4,364 rushing yards on 676 rushing attempts this season.
Finding the 2013 Auburn team's identity helped the Tigers literally run to the national championship game.
“We had some growing pains, had some tough times,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told the media following the Missouri win. “We strained the dog out of our players in the spring. In the fall camp, we were very physical, and this bunch came together. They found a way to improve each practice and each game, and we're playing our best football right now.”
Junior running back Tre Mason has led the way with 1,621 yards, second to Bo Jackson on Auburn's single-season list, and a school-record 22 touchdowns.
Mason recorded 46 carries against Missouri, a school record. He gained 304 yards, the second-most in school history, and tied a career high with four touchdowns.
“You're looking at one of the top running backs in college football, and he proved it again today,” Malzahn said after the game.
Run-Blocking Left Tackle
Auburn has benefited from having three productive running backs, but the production begins with the offensive line. Left tackle and third-year sophomore Greg Robinson has been a dominant run blocker and NFL scouts are paying attention.
A decision is approaching for Robinson, on whether to leave early for the NFL.
"I've really been putting it off," Robinson told AL.com. "I've just been talking to my family about it, it's a big thing. But I haven't made a decision yet. I haven't had time."
Part of the decision process will include other left tackles that are considering the same early jump to the NFL, and there a lot of left tackles pondering the thought. Jake Matthews of Texas A&M, Tennessee junior Antonio Richardson and Wesley Johnson of Vanderbilt. Other SEC left tackles that will consider an early jump to the NFL include Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio, LSU's La'El Collins and South Carolina's Corey Robinson.
Football.com's Senior NFL Draft Editor David Seigerman did not include Robinson in his most recent Big Board of 64 players, but Mel Kiper of ESPN currently has Robinson ranked 14th on his Big Board.
"Greg Robinson is the stud of that line," Kiper said during a conference call in November. "He's one of the elite left tackles, his star is rising, his arrow is up. He keeps moving up and up and up and he'll have a decision to make at the end of the year. We'll see what his decision is, but he's a heck of a football player."
Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes feels if Robinson comes back, the left tackle could be the NFL's first overall pick in the 2015 draft.
"Without a doubt, I think he's that kind of player," Grimes told AL.com. "I don't think that'll happen this year, but he's obviously a great talent."
Auburn's 2013 Rushing Performances