Editor's note: While Auburn beat writer Ryan Black makes his way back from California, we'll take a look back at Monday night's BCS championship game. It begins with head coach Gus Malzahn's postgame comments. The full transcript is provided below.
"First of all, I'm very proud of my team, proud of these guys beside me, how far they've come from the very first game to getting here, and just being on the brink of winning the whole thing, I'm very proud of them.
"At the same time we've got a lot of competitors in our locker room. They're disappointed. It went back and forth, a lot of little plays swung, but you've got to give them guys credit. They drove the field and they scored towards the end and found a way to win."
On Kermit Whitfield's 100-yard kick return for a touchdown:
"Yeah, they cut it back and they hit a seam. There was some good execution. Obviously we didn't cover it very well. That was a big play in the game. But you're exactly right, that was uncharacteristic, but at the same time you've got to give them credit."
On his feelings about Tre Mason's 37-yard touchdown with 1:19 remaining gave Auburn a 31-27 lead:
"Yeah, felt pretty good. Our offense went down and scored on that run, we felt like we had the kickoff and we covered the kickoff well and felt pretty good at that point."
On the play of the Tigers' defense:
"Yeah, our defense the first half, they played their tail off. As a matter of fact they did a good job. The third quarter offensively sputtered and they kept us in the game right there. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback."
On whether he regretted not being more aggressive on the final offensive possession of the first half:
"Any time you lose you always look back, but really I felt pretty good. Felt we were trying to get a 1st down, get around midfield possibly and throw it in the end zone."
On Nick Marshall's performance and how he feels about his starting quarterback moving forward:
"Yeah, I felt Nick did a very solid job. They were daring us to throw the football early in the game and I think we hit that big one down the middle and it kind of loosened him up a little bit. He's done an outstanding job this year, not going through spring and leading us to the National Championship with a chance to win it. He's got a very bright future."
On how he believes this year's team will be remembered:
"Well, I told them in the locker room, equally the biggest turnaround in the history of college football, and they've been playing football for a long time. There will be a lot of great things and great memories that our seniors have led us to be. We're just on the brink of making it one of those magical seasons, but there's so many great things that we'll take. I just told the seniors they laid the groundwork for our program moving forward, and our program is very bright right now."
On how he feels about the future of the program:
"There's no doubt we're going up. The experience that we had and we got most of our guys coming back, recruiting is going great, and our goal is to get back here, and I really believe we'll do it."