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Tigers thrive on the run

AUBURN – Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn chuckled at the question and shook his head. “Have you ever,” he was asked, “called fewer pass plays than this season?”

Freshman running back Mike Dyer celebrates win over Georgia/ photo

“No,” he said, “probably not. But I like to run the ball. I really do.”

And why not? Malzahn, whose reputation is as a passing whiz, has Cam Newton, the best running quarterback in SEC history. He has Mike Dyer, the most prolific freshman running back in Auburn history. He has a fierce offensive line that includes four seniors with more than 150 starts among them.

The past and the present met Saturday during Auburn’s 49-31 victory over Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Jackson watched from the sideline as Dyer broke his freshman record. When Dyer returned to the bench, Jackson walked up to him and gave him a hug and even a kiss on the cheek.

“He came over and said, ‘Hey, I’m proud of you’ and ‘keep your head up. I want you to go out there and break the rest of my records,’” Dyer said. “You can never expect something like this. You can only dream that it will come true. To me, that’s a great memory I’ll have when I leave Auburn. It was a great time. There probably wasn’t a better moment in the game.

“(Jackson) supports us. He shows he cares about Auburn. There probably wasn’t a better moment in the game. Coming from him – someone who has done what he has done – well, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Dyer broke the record on an 11-yard run in the third quarter and finished the game with 60 yards on 13 carries. Jackson rushed for 829 yards in 1982. Dyer has 859 yards with at least two games to play.

Meanwhile, Auburn’s running game continues to be the engine in an offense that has already broken the school record for points in a season. The Tigers have rushed for 311 yards or more in six consecutive SEC games. Against LSU, they rushed for 440 yards.

That overpowering running game has led Auburn to the edge of a championship. The No. 2 Tigers (11-0, 7-0) have clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game. They have a bye week before going to Alabama on Nov. 26. They are two wins away from playing in the BCS Championship Game.

Quarterback Cam Newton attacks the Bulldogs/ photo

Auburn leads the SEC in rushing by a wide margin, averaging 307.9 yards per game to second-place Ole Miss’ 219. The Tigers also lead in scoring with 42.8 yards per game, total offense with 505.2 yards per game and in pass efficiency with a rating of 182.0.

Quarterback Cam Newton leads the way for all of it. Saturday, he became the first player in SEC history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing. Newton leads the league with 1,297 yards rushing. He has 2,038 yards passing and leads the league in pass efficiency. He has been responsible for 39 touchdowns, an Auburn record and the most in college football this season.


Auburn's running statistics in seven SEC games:

Mississippi State: 46-190, 0 TD

South Carolina: 57-334, 3 TD

Kentucky: 52-311, 4 TD

Arkansas: 49-330, 6 TD

LSU: 52-440, 3 TD

Ole Miss: 46-343, 2 TD

Georgia: 57-315, 5 TD

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