December 8, 2013

Run to Pasadena


AUBURN Gus Malzahn was at home to watch the final minutes of Michigan State's 34-24 win against Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship.

That turn of events paved the way for Auburn, fresh off its eighth Southeastern Conference championship, to qualify for the BCS championship game against top-ranked Florida State. Did Malzahn reach out to MSU coach Mark D'Antoni as a token of appreciation?

"No," the Auburn coach said, "but I need to."

He may have a chance to pass along salutations in Pasadena. Auburn's game against Florida State on Jan. 6 will be played in the Rose Bowl -- one week after Michigan State's game against Stanford in the same stadium.

Yet the focus in southern California and beyond will remain the title game, which will feature two offenses that haven't endured many struggles this season. Florida State, which finished its season 13-0, has averaged 53 points per game this season.

Auburn? Twelfth at 40.2 points per game.

Still, the Tigers already have captured FSU coach Jimbo Fisher's attention. He said Sunday that the play of tailback Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall have created an attack that has entered the fourth dimension.

They can handle on the speed sweep, they outflank you, they have great receivers and motion guys that way, they can run the ball inside with great power and the quarterback can run it and play action off of it," Fisher said.

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