ATLANTA -- Auburn pulled away from South Carolina in the second half Saturday for a 56-17 blowout victory, winning its first SEC championship since 2004 and earning a trip to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. Here are some thoughts from the game.
How the game was won: Auburn scored 28 unanswered points and dominated the second half to pull away for its 13th straight win. Auburn led 21-14 late in the second quarter before going on its decisive run. After giving up an early touchdown, the Tigers were stifling defensively in one of their better all-around performances of the season.
Turning point: Auburn connected on a Hail Mary pass on the final offensive play of the first half to go ahead 28-14 after South Carolina had just driven for a touchdown to pull within 21-14 with 16 seconds left. Cam Newton’s 51-yard scoring pass, which Darvin Adams caught off the deflection, halted South Carolina’s momentum in its tracks, and the Gamecocks never recovered.
Player of the game: Newton tied Danny Wuerffel’s SEC championship game touchdown record with six -- four passing and two rushing. He finished 17-of-28 for 335 passing yards and also added 73 rushing yards.
Stat of the game: Newton became only the third player in NCAA history to pass for 20 touchdowns and rush for 20 touchdowns in the same season. Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick accomplished the feat earlier Saturday and Florida’s Tim Tebow also did it during his 2007 Heisman Trophy season.
Unsung hero: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley was a force in the middle, as he has been all season, and kept the Gamecocks from ever getting into an offensive flow.
What it means: The Tigers will play for their first national championship since 1957. The matchup will be officially announced on Sunday night, but it will be Auburn versus Oregon in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.