Heisman finalist: Tre Mason

Tre Mason, RB, Auburn

Key stats: 1,621 yards, 22 touchdowns, 5.7 yards per carry

Why he made it to NYC: The past four players to lead the SEC in rushing were all invited to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, and three of the four won the award. It made sense for Mason, who leads the conference in both rushing yards and touchdowns, to at least get an invite. Not to mention, the Auburn running back saved his best games for the biggest stage. Mason split carries early in the season but quickly became the feature back when SEC play began. He rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns against LSU. He racked up 178 yards and a touchdown at Texas A&M. Down the stretch, he reached the century mark in five straight games, including 164 in the Iron Bowl and a career high 304 against Missouri in the SEC championship game. Once questioned for his durability, Mason proved he could carry the load and helped lead this Auburn team to the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game.

Heisman moment: After Auburn’s improbable win over No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn mentioned his talented quarterback Nick Marshall as a possible Heisman candidate. Little did he know, he was advocating for the wrong guy. Mason was already the SEC’s rushing leader at the time, but his Heisman moment came the next week in the SEC championship game. There wasn’t one specific play, though his fourth-quarter touchdown followed by the Heisman pose certainly left an impression, but it was more of a collective effort. Mason set new records left and right with 46 carries for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Malzahn later admitted he was worried about fatigue, but Mason kept asking for the ball. “Coach, keep giving it to me,” he said. “We’re going to win the SEC championship.” Mission accomplished.