AUBURN, Ala. — Cam Newton did his talking on the field.
Responding to all those allegations of wrongdoing with another brilliant performance, Newton passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead No. 2 Auburn into the SEC Championship Game and another step closer to playing for the national title.
The Tigers pulled away from Georgia in the fourth quarter for a 49-31 victory that, at least for one day, took some of the heat off college football's most dynamic player.
"I'm just very proud of the way he played," coach Gene Chizik said.
Newton celebrated with his teammates in front of the student section, but that was the only insight into how he was feeling after reports that his father, Cecil, solicited money during the recruiting process. Auburn officials refused to make Newton available to the media.
The Tigers will face South Carolina for the conference title Dec. 4 in Atlanta, though the Iron Bowl showdown against Alabama still looms.
"SEC!" the sellout crowd of 87,451 chanted, looking forward to the Tigers' return to the title game for the first time since the perfect 2004 season.
"Make no mistake, our goal when we got here was to win a championship," Chizik said. "We've not done that yet. We're not going to act like we have, because we haven't. But we're one step closer."
Auburn survived another high-scoring, back-and-forth affair, rallying from a 21-7 deficit to tie it up by halftime. The Tigers kept the momentum with an onside kick to start the third quarter, recovering the ball and driving for the go-ahead touchdown.
Georgia hung tough behind A.J. Green's nine-catch, 164-yard performance, tying the score at 28 before Auburn went ahead for good on Onterio McCalebb's 4-yard run. Newton finished the Bulldogs with his second scoring pass of the game to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.
Newton rushed for 151 yards on 30 carries, scoring Auburn's first touchdown on a 31-yard run and capping the win with a 1-yard leap in the final minutes.
Newton completed 12 of 15 passes for 148 yards, along the way becoming the first player in SEC history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Georgia's Aaron Murray, who played at Plant High, passed for 273 yards and three scores.
Afterward, Georgia coach Mark Richt laughed off a report that he could be a candidate for the coaching job at Colorado. According to the Denver Post, the Buffaloes want to talk to Richt after firing Dan Hawkins a week ago. Richt's response: "Georgia's my home."
No. 5 LSU 51, La.-Monroe 0: Ron Brooks returned an interception for a score, Lavar Edwards brought back a fumble for another, but the host Tigers were eliminated from contention in the SEC West because of Auburn's win. LSU's defense produced five turnovers in all, leading to 30 points, and LSU built a 44-0 lead by the third quarter. Stevan Ridley rushed for two touchdowns, the first set up by Patrick Peterson's 85-yard interception return. LSU still can finish 11-1 and end up in its first BCS bowl since the 2007 season. "We really feel like this is our year to get back," quarterback Jordan Jefferson said. "That only happens if we finish this season strong."
No. 11 Ala. 30, No. 17 Miss. St. 10: Greg McElroy passed for 227 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown toss to Mark Ingram, and the host Crimson Tide pulled away. The Bulldogs kept Ingram under wraps on the ground, holding the Heisman-winning back to 53 yards on 18 carries. Alabama scored on a 45-yard pass to Marquis Maze, the 78-yarder to Ingram and a 56-yard run by Julio Jones on consecutive offensive plays starting in the second quarter. "We've got some guys that can make explosive plays, and we want to put the ball in their hands so that they have an opportunity to do that," Tide coach Nick Saban said.
No. 14 Ark. 58, UTEP 21: Ryan Mallett threw for a school-record-tying five touchdowns and ran for another as the host Razorbacks rolled up a season-best 326 yards rushing. Knile Davis added a career-best 182 yards on 11 carries. Mallett scrambled 14 yards, leaping less than gracefully into the end zone. "I was going to dive in, and the guy moved," Mallet said. "I had to kind of stop midair." The junior tied the single-game touchdown pass mark for the fourth time.
Kentucky 38, Vandy 20: Randall Cobb ran for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns for the host Wildcats, who became bowl eligible for the fifth straight year. Derrick Locke, returning after missing four games with a shoulder stinger, added 145 yards and two scores. Cobb, lined up in the wildcat, zigzagged 73 yards on Kentucky's first second-half series to put it up 17-13.
Tenn. 52, Miss. 14: Tyler Bray threw three touchdowns, two to Justin Hunter, for the host Vols, who got their first league win this season. Bray's first pass was tipped by a defender into the hands of Hunter, who took it 80 yards. "It was a little lucky, but you create it," coach Derek Dooley said. In two games as starter, including last week's 50-14 win over Memphis, Bray, a freshman, is 37-of-67 for 648 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.