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If you predicted this SEC Championship Game at the beginning of the season, you probably won a lot of money. Not many saw a Missouri-Auburn matchup likely as neither team was in the preseason Top 25, or anywhere close considering the two had a combined 8-16 record last year. This line has already moved a healthy amount, but the public has been heavy on Auburn (72% at sportsbook.com) and the Tigers are up to -2 point favorites for the game at the Georgia Dome at most sportsbooks while sportsbook.com has -2.5. The total is 58.
These teams have never played before which makes it all the more interesting. Both have incredible against the spread records (Missouri 10-1-1, Auburn 10-2) as their runs were pretty surprising.
Missouri's lone loss of the season came in an unfortunate double OT game to South Carolina in which the Gamecocks put 17 points on the board in the fourth quarter. Outside of that, it's been clear that the Tigers deserve to be here. They had an early big road win at then-ranked No. 7 Georgia and just last week contained Johnny Manziel to beat the Aggies 28-21.
The Tigers have a complete team with a vastly underrated defense that hasn't allowed more than 28 points all year. That's a considerable feat playing in the SEC.
They're just fine on offense as well with James Franklin back at quarterback. He hasn't looked as good since returning two games ago from injury, but he's done enough, tossing for 233 yards and two TDs along with 80 rushing yards against Texas A&M. On the year, Franklin is completing 67 percent of his passes for 16 TDs and four INTs. Receivers L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham are going to be huge in this game and not many can stop them. The two were targeted on 20 of 30 passes last game. The run game is just as solid led by Henry Josey with 951 yards and 13 TDs. Including Josey, Missouri has three different RBs with over 80 carries and at least 6.2 yards per carry.
Auburn's season hasn't been as clear cut, although their schedule was a bit rougher. After an early season loss to LSU, no one gave the Tigers much thought. Since, they've battled multiple ranked teams and had some incredible wins. If they go on to win this game, it would be truly remarkable.
Auburn needed 21 fourth-quarter points and a late TD to beat Texas A&M 45-41 back in October, and that seems normal to their last two games. A desperation heave for a 73-yard touchdown secured an improbable win over Georgia and just last week, they beat Alabama in what could be considered the craziest and biggest ending ever in college football. The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final 32 seconds to beat the hands down No. 1 team in the country and the final TD came on a missed field goal return.
With all that said, Auburn has been able to win with a ground game that churns out 318 yards per game. Its defense may leave something to be desired as in bigger games, the Tigers have given up plenty of points. But offensively, it's now known they can run on anyone after running comfortably against Alabama last weekend. RB Tre Mason has a solid 1,317 yards and 18 touchdowns on the year, but it's quarterback Nick Marshall that has been the bigger news. While he isn't all that accurate passing the ball (59.2 percent), Marshall averages 6.6 yards per carry and has 922 yards and 10 TDs on the year.
Will this be the first time Missouri allows more than 28 points all year or will they find a way to contain Mason and Marshall just enough? Can Auburn's defense step up to the challenge and win this game so it doesn't require a miracle ending? Whatever happens, it's going to be fun to watch.
The Missouri Tigers are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games on field turf and 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games overall. The Auburn Tigers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral site games and 10-1 ATS in their last 11 overall.
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