Mason, Marshall can't deliver another Auburn win
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Tre Mason and Nick Marshall delivered everything but the victory.
No. 2 Auburn's potent 1-2 backfield punch came through in the clutch again Monday night in a 34-31 loss to No. 1 Florida State in the BCS championship game. This time it just wasn't enough.
Mason's 37-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left gave the Tigers (12-2) a lead that Jameis Winston & Co. wiped out with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left.
A defense that had mostly held firm in big moments couldn't stop the Heisman Trophy winner and his deadly offense.
Mason, a Heisman finalist, ran 34 times for 195 yards for his sixth straight 100-yard game. He pinballed off defensive back Jalen Ramsey downfield for his 23rd rushing touchdown.
Marshall threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He also ran for 45 yards and a third score.
Mason, who is eligible for the NFL draft, broke Bo Jackson's school record of 1,786 yards rushing set during his 1985 Heisman season.
More significantly, the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher came up huge on another big stage. He helped power the Tigers into the game with 46 carries for 304 yards against Missouri to capture the SEC championship and gained 164 yards against Alabama.
Those two performances helped him land in New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Mason and Marshall were integral parts of a season that matched the biggest turnaround in college football history after a 3-9 debacle.
Marshall had deftly operated Auburn's zone read and the nation's top rushing attack after a midseason switch in offensive philosophy to capitalize on his strengths. The junior college transfer didn't arrive on campus until the summer to start learning Gus Malzahn's no-huddle offense, but learned as he went.
Not known primarily for his passing, Marshall still held his own against Winston.
He completed 14 of 27 passes and ran 16 times.
It wasn't a perfect performance. He underthrew a wide-open Ricardo Louis downfield in the first quarter, and the hero of the Georgia win couldn't pull it in.
Marshall also had a 50-yard touchdown pass to reserve Melvin Ray, a former minor league baseball player who had caught only four passes for 58 yards coming into the game.
Marshall hooked up with the other offensive star with a 12-yard touchdown to Mason in the first quarter. Marshall's 4-yard touchdown gave the underdog Tigers a 21-3 lead 25 minutes into the game.