However, with Mason needing a brief rest from his record 46-carry, 304-yard performance in Auburn's 59-42 SEC championship victory over Missouri Saturday at the Georgia Dome, Artis-Payne made the most of a brief third-quarter appearance. He was impressive on his two carries that covered 21 and 15 yards, the latter with nifty moves that resulted in a touchdown to give Auburn a much-needed score and a 45-34 lead.
"The offensive line got a push, then I saw a crease and was able to cut back for the touchdown," is how Artis-Payne described his key six points. "The offensive line was getting a push all night and we just kept going with the run."
The Tigers piled up 545 yards rushing to go with 132 yards passing for a total offense of 677 yards, a championship game record. Payne improved his totals for the season to 613 yards rushing and six touchdowns, joining three other Tigers with more than 600 yards rushing.
Did Artis-Payne see a conference championship coming when he signed out of junior college with the new coaching staff last year?
"When I came on my visit I saw that there was a lot of talent on a team that should not have finished 3-9," he said. "We talked about having the biggest turn-around in college football this year and going from last to first.
"Coaches broke it down for us to play full speed on offense and it worked out for us," he said. "I hope we have an opportunity to go all the way to the national championship game."
In other news and notes:
*Jermaine Whitehead's interception in the second quarter was his second of the season and third of his career.
*Auburn has 11 scoring drives of less than a minute this season.
*Cody Parkey's 52-yard field goal was a career long for the senior (previous best was 47) and is 10th in Auburn records and the longest for Auburn since 2008.
*Nick Marshall (1,023) crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He became the fifth QB in SEC history to do that joining former Auburn players Kirk Newell (1913), Cam Newton (2010) and Jimmy Sidle (1963) plus current Texas A&M player Johnny Manziel.
*This is the second game this season that four different Auburn players have scored a rushing touchdown. The other was Florida Atlantic.
*Auburn has 45 rushing touchdowns on the season, a school record, breaking the previous mark was 41 in 2010.
Tre Mason has 21 rushing touchdowns this season.
*Auburn is now 5-3-1 in games involving two AP top five teams.
*Auburn is 305-4 when scoring 30 points or more and has scored at least 30 points in nine straight games. The Tigers have won 88 straight games when scoring 30 or more points.
Auburn has won more SEC Championships this decade than any other team with two--in 2010 and 2013.
*The win over Missouri gives Auburn its third SEC Championship since 2004, the most of any program in the league. Florida, LSU and Alabama each have two. Georgia owns one. The championship is Auburn's eighth, tying the Tigers with Tennessee for fifth-most in league history. Alabama leads the all-time list with 23.
*Auburn is the first team in SEC history to win the SEC Championship outright after going winless in league play the season before. In 1976 Kentucky tied Georgia with a 5-1 league record to become co-SEC Champions after a forfeit was imposed on Mississippi State by the NCAA and the SEC.
*Auburn is only the fourth team to win its conference title outright a season after going winless in league play the previous season and the first to do so since 1972.
*Auburn has won its last three SEC Championship Game appearances--a 59-42 win over Missouri in 2013, a 56-17 win over South Carolina in 2010 and a 38-28 win over Tennessee in 2004.
*Auburn is unbeaten in six straight top five matchups after it defeated then No. 1 Alabama 34-28 last week, No. 1 Auburn 22, No. 2 Oregon 19 in the BCS National Championship Game in 2011, No. 3 Auburn 26, No. 5 Tennessee 26 in 1990, No. 3 Auburn 13, at No. 4 Georgia 7 in 1983 and No. 4 Auburn 28, No. 5 Florida 21 in 1983.
*Auburn has won 12 games for only the third time in school history, joining a 14-0 record in 2010 and a 13-0 record in 2004.
*With the win Auburn ties Hawaii for the NCAA improvement record from one year to the next at 8 1/2 games. The Tigers are 12-1 in 2013 after going 3-9 last season. Hawaii went 9-4 in 2000 after finishing the 1999 season 0-12.