December 1, 2013

Continued climb



Untitled











AUBURN | Gus Malzahn broke from personal protocol Saturday night by flashing a smile and appearing to revel, at least momentarily, in the Tigers' stunning win against Alabama.


He went back to work in a matter of hours.


The head coach spent part of his night Saturday reviewing footage of Missouri, which beat Texas A&M to earn the right to face Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship game. There was no time for Waffle House -- or anything else.


"Anytime you're playing for a championship, there's no time to relax," Malzahn said. "We felt like we needed to get a head start on them. They're a very good football team."


Missouri (11-1) is a lot like Auburn. It was picked to finish next-to-last in the Eastern Division, ahead of Kentucky, and instead emerged as one of the nation's surprise teams. The two Tigers have produced a nearly identical statistical profile -- nearly even in scoring, scoring defense and total yards.


Yet coach Gary Pinkel's team operates a little differently on offense, using the pass game as something more than a token diversion. Quarterback James Franklin was gaining some Heisman Trophy hype in September before a separated shoulder sidelined him for a month.


Still, he has completed 67 percent of his passes, thrown for 14 touchdowns against four interceptions and has above-average mobility. He has three primary receivers -- and they're all at least 6-foot-4.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!