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The 2011 BCS championship game lived up to the hype as it came down to the wire between Oregon and Auburn. Auburn's win gives them their first national title since 1958 and it gives the SEC more bragging rights as Auburn becomes the fifth team in a row from the SEC to win the BCS championship. During that span the SEC has had four different teams win the five titles with only the 2006 and 2008 Florida Gators winning two titles during that span.
The game started off sluggish in the first quarter as both quarterbacks tried to find themselves in the game, but Oregon's Darron Thomas threw two interceptions where Auburn's Cam Newton threw a pick. The first quarter went back and forth with no teams putting up any points. Oregon was able to strike first by moving the ball well into Auburn territory as the first quarter ended and were only able to kick a field goal as they took an early 3-0 lead. On that drive Oregon was able to get the ball to the Auburn nine yard line, because the Oregon spread offense does not have a package where they can put the quarterback under center and run the ball up the gut. The inability to have a running back run the ball up the middle would come back to bite Oregon later in the game.
The second quarter was when the offenses started clicking as both teams combined for 27 of the 41 points during that span. Auburn's first touchdown drive was an impressive eight play 82 yard drive that consisted of Cam Newton beating the Oregon defense with his arm as he completed five of six passes for the touchdown. The scoring play was a 35 yard strike to Kodi Burns.
Oregon did not want to feel left behind so they returned the following kick 70 yards by Josh Huff to the seven yard line. The Ducks went onto score, but the interesting play happened when Oregon lined up for the typical field goal and then faked the extra point by running the option with the holder and the kicker which was successful and caught Auburn off guard.
The fake extra point in the second quarter was not the oddest play of the night, and it probably was the third on the list in bizarre or surprising plays in Tuesday's game. The second oddest play was a safety that Auburn forced upon Oregon. The Ducks were pinned at their one yard line -- after Auburn failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal from the one yard line -- when the Ducks lined up in their traditional shot gun formation and on their first play gained some yards, but there was an offensive penalty which put Oregon even closer to their own goal line. The next play Oregon again was in the shotgun and a running play by LaMIchael James was blown up in the backfield and James was tackled a yard inside their own endzone which resulted in a safety.
On the ensuing kickoff Auburn got that touchdown back by driving down the field with freshman running back Michael Dyer running a few times for a good chunk of yardage which set up a 30 yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake which put Auburn up 16-11 which was a lead they would never relinquish.
Oregon had one last shot to tie the game down 19-11 and they put together a great drive which included a fourth down conversion en route to a touchdown. Their two-point play was an amazing feat as well as Darron Thomas was being pressured while rolling out to his right and threw the ball off his back foot while being hit across his body to the left part of the field to an open Jeff Mahel to tie the game at 19-19.
Auburn took the ball back with 2:33 left and plenty of time to move the ball down the field for a potential game winning field goal. The play on the drive that essentially sealed the win was the play where Auburn running back Michael Dyer looked to be tackled but was actually on top of an Oregon defender. Dyer thought he was down as well when the Auburn bench told him to keep running and when he did he gained another 20 yards to essentially seal the game for Auburn.
Auburn eventually kicked a 19 yard field goal to win their first national championship since 1957. The game lived up to the hype as both teams were evenly matched. Oregon did a good job of containing Cam Newton in the rushing game as he ended up with only 64 yards, but he cleaned up in the passing game with 264 yards and two touchdowns.
The 41 points in tonight's game was less points then what both teams average by themselves as Auburn defeated Oregon to win their first NCAA title since 1957, and is the SEC's fifth straight BCS championship. Tonight's game started off with both sides having early interceptions, but when both teams settled in it always seemed that Auburn was in control of this game. Even when Oregon converted on the fake punt in the third quarter to continue a drive that momentum gained was then stalled when Oregon failed to score when they had the ball inside the one yard line of Auburn but failed to punch the ball in. The one big weakness of the Oregon spread is that they do not have a short yardage package with a back to run up the gut to gain that yard.
Auburn did not go onto score after they stopped Oregon only a yard away from a touchdown, but the game just seemed that it was Auburn's to lose even when Auburn tied the game at 19 apiece.
The play of the game came from Auburn running back Michael Dyer ran for 37 yards, but not only after he was apparently tackled. Everyone on the field -- except the Auburn bench -- thought Dyer was down, but he actually rolled over the Oregon defender where neither is elbow or knee hit the ground and continued running for a 37 yard gain.
Dyer ended up as the games Most Outstanding Player for the title game as he rushed for 143 yards and his 37 yard run was the play that put Auburn in field goal range for the final field goal. Dyer finished off the drive to get Auburn to the Oregon one yard line before kicking the game winning field goal.
After a scoreless first quarter and two interceptions by Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas and one by Auburn's Cam Newton the offenses started to find their groove. At the end of the first quarter, Oregon finally got on the board with a field goal after being stopped inside the Auburn five-yard line.
With the score 3-0, Auburn had an eight-play, 82-yard drive for a touchdown and that is when the scoring started for both schools. Cam Newton took over by slicing up the Oregon secondary on that drive by completing five of six passes for the first touchdown of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff Oregon's Josh Huff returned the kick 70 yards to set up Oregon's first touchdown, which was an eight-yard pass to LaMichael James, scoring his second receiving touchdown of the year. Then Oregon decided to fake the extra point by having the holder run the option and pitching to the kicker, who took the ball in for the surprise two points.
Auburn then drove all the way down the field on a time-consuming drive that stalled inside Oregon territory. On the fourth-down play Cam Newton lined up in his usual shotgun formation and looked like his usual running play but he started to go toward the line of scrimmage, stopped and then passed to a wide open Eric Smith, who could not reach the ball. That did not matter all that much since the Auburn defense forced an Oregon safety to make the score 11-9.
Auburn then moved onto the running game with Michael Dyer who ran the ball four times to move the ball, and then Cam Newton took to the air and beat the Oregon secondary with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake to extend Auburn's lead, 16-11.
Auburn's defense has been able to slow down the ultra-fast and high powered Oregon offense and not allowing the big plays, while the Auburn offense has been efficient and making plays. The Oregon defense has been able to slow down Cam Newton in the rushing game, but Auburn has been able to adjust to utilize the passing game and the occasional running game with Michael Dyer.
Oregon is known for their seemingly hundreds of football uniform combinations, but in tonight's BCS championship game the Ducks are being a little more conservative in what they are wearing sans the electric yellow socks.
The neon yellow socks were chosen to showcase the speed of Oregon when people watching the game on high-definition or in 3D.
The BCS championship game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. MT on ESPN in Glendale, Ariz.
The BCS championship game takes place tonight and with it being the biggest college football game of the year so everyone has their prediction for tonights game. Before we move onto predictions the line on the game has Auburn only a single point favorite over Oregon.
Solid Verbal - The podcast hosts differ on their picks with Ty Hildenbrandt going with Auburn over Oregon 38-30, while Oregon alum Dan Rubenstein takes Oregon to win by a touchdown.
Stewart Mandel, SI.com - He takes Auburn 48-39.
Rivals - The four split on Auburn and Oregon with 58 percent of the Yahoo public in their pick'em game take Auburn.
CBS Sports - Four of the five take Oregon over Auburn.
USA Today - Six of the eight writers are taking Auburn over Oregon.
Fanhouse - Brett McMurphy makes his picks by the spread and takes Oregon.
AccuScore - The computer takes Auburn at a slime 51 percent of times by an average score of 27.6 to 36.4.
ESPN Bloggers - SEC blogger Chris Low takes Auburn to win 42-31 while Pac 10 blogger Ted Miller takes Oregon 38-30.
Doug Fluite - "I'm starting to lean toward Auburn," he said. "The big difference is the Auburn offensive line. Every time I start to talk about this game, I want to say Oregon. I love Chip Kelly and their style of offense and the things they do.
The BCS championship game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. MT tonight at ESPN in Glendale, Ariz.
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton is the best player on the field and while that is obvious, but he is really that good and here is the science to prove it.
Saying Cam Newton is the main reason that Auburn will win is similar to saying that Oregon's main key to victory is in their rushing attack. Newton being six-feet-six-inches tall and weighing in at 247 pounds is the reason it takes more then one person to take him down in the running the game.
The offensive line is just as important in Newton's success in the running and passing game. The Auburn line is in the top third in sacks and tackles for loss in the nation, and while part of that has to do with how good the Auburn line is Newton plays a roll in avoiding some of those would-be sacks with his athleticism.
The Auburn line will have their worked cut out in trying to stop the Oregon defensive line who is in the top third in sacks and tackles for loss. If the Auburn line can give Newton time to throw and run then their offense should hum along as normal.
The biggest area where Auburn needs to step up is in their pass defense which is near the bottom in the nation in passing yards per game and quarterback efficiency. SB Nation's Auburn blog Track'em Tigers feels the same:
Coming off their best performance of the year against South Carolina, the Tiger backfield must duplicate its effort again to have a chance.
Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas certainly doesn't get the hype of his counterpart, but he's been nearly as effective through the air as Cam Newton. He's completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,518 yards. He's also fairly dangerous on the ground, shredding opponents for nearly 500 yards of rushing.
Oregon's receiving corp. is a senior group led by Jeff Maehl, Sr., 6-1, 184. He's grabbed 12 touchdown receptions this season, which is a school record. Duck receivers have a reputation for running disciplined routes and are great downfield blockers.
Auburn cornerback T'Sharvan Bell must continue the high level of play he's shown in wins over Alabama and South Carolina. Neiko Thorpe must prevent giving up the big play, which is what Oregon's offense thrives on. Without question, this is Auburn's chief concern.
The secondary also could use some help from the Auburn defensive line by pressuring Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas to make quick throws or by sacking him. The secondary must not allow the big plays that Oregon is known to produce in throwing the deep ball. The Auburn secondary can give up the yards, but limiting big plays will limit what Oregon can do in the passing game.
The 2011 BCS National Championship Game between Auburn and Oregon will feature two highly-sought after NFL draft prospects in Auburn's Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. Newton, a quarterback who is expected to declare for the draft, won the 2010 Heisman Trophy following a season in which he threw for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,409 yards and 20 touchdowns. At 6-foot-6, 250-pounds, Newton appears to be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL given his size, but will a team be willing to take that risk after one amazing season at the FBS level? He could be a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Nick Fairley is a defensive lineman for the Tigers and should also be selected in the top-10 picks of the upcoming draft. He had 21.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in 2010. The 6-foto-5, 300-pound lineman is versatile enough to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme. The Denver Broncos would be well advised to watch Fairley very closely in tonight's game.
Mocking the Draft has a post on other players of interest in this game. One player not mentioned on that list is Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James, who decided to return to school. James will be a high selection when he comes out in 2012 or 2013.
Tonight's title game features offense vs. offense, but it is never as simple as that. For Oregon, all of the attention goes to their magnificent rushing attack featuring LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and when quarterback Darron Thomas does run he can be deadly. The rushing attack doing well for Oregon is an obvious key and does not need much more elaboration except that if the rushing attack does well then expect Oregon to either win this game or the end result will be a close matchup.
Both teams score in bunches, so the defenses will need to step up and hold their ground tonight. Auburn's secondary is the only unit that is either not comparable to the other team or is elite. Their pass defense is 107th in the nation in yards per game and is 75th in opposing quarterback rating. This means that Darron Thomas needs to test the Auburn secondary early and often to see how they react.
Oregon's SB Nation blog Addicted to Quack believes for Oregon to win Thomas will have to play a near perfect game:
For the Ducks to win, Darron will need to play at the level that he did against Stanford, USC, and UCLA. If he does this, I don't see the Auburn defense being able to contain the multidimensional Oregon attack. It's simply too dangerous when it's firing on all cylinders.
I agree with their sentiment that if Oregon is able to be running at full speed in the rushing game and the passing game there is very little to no chance Auburn can keep pace.
Getting to Cam Newton will be huge for the Oregon defense. We already discussed how lethal Newton is in when running the ball on third-and-short plays from the shotgun, but he has a good enough arm to make deep passes to hurt opposing defenses if they concentrate too much on him.
The Oregon defensive line will have to cause pressure and hit Newton in the backfield to limit his ability to run the ball. The Oregon defense averaged 2.58 sacks per game and 7.42 tackles for loss per game, so they have been blasting pass opposing teams offensive fronts. Auburn's offensive line is full of large men, but they hovered around the top third in sacks allowed and tackles for loss.
If Oregon can do these three items then they should have a very good chance of winning tonight, but the biggest key is getting to Cam Newton early and not allowing him time to improvise in passing situations and hitting him at or behind the line of scrimmage in running plays.
The BCS championship game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. MT on ESPN at Glendale, Ariz.
For those casual football fans who have not seen too much of Auburn or Oregon and are wondering what all the craze is about with these two offenses in tonight's game, well now is your chance to have a cram session in seeing what these two teams are all about.
2010 Auburn Tiger highlights.
Oregon is the top scoring team in the nation and here is a video showing all 80 touchdowns that they scored.
The BCS championship game kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. MT in Glendale, Ariz. on ESPN.
The day has finally arrived where college football will crown the BCS national champion tonight when undefeated Auburn takes on undefeated Oregon. Both teams posses a high a powered offense as they are both ranked in the top five in scoring offense and top five in rushing offense in the nation. Their passing offenses are not as strong as their rushing attacks, as Oregon is 49th and Auburn is 67th in passing yards per game; however, both Darron Thomas and Cam Newton come up with big plays when they count. Newton has completed 95 pass plays for over 15 yards with 30 of those being over 25 yards, while Thomas has 89 pass plus for 15 or more yards with 26 being over 25 yards.
The offenses deservedly receive the headline billing in tonight's title game and both seem fairly even against each other, but this game - as does nearly every football game -- will come down to defense. Both teams possess a top-15 rush defense, but the big difference in tonight's game will be the pass defense. Oregon is just average as they are the 52nd rated pass defense, but Auburn is just bad at 105th in defending the pass.
The Auburn secondary was questioned before the Alabama game and SEC title game against South Carolina and they came away with wins in both. If there is any separation in tonight's game it could come from Oregon slinging the ball against the Auburn secondary. In games where Auburn went up against big time receivers, the Auburn secondary had no answer. Alabama's Julio Jones had 10 catches for 199 yards and a score, Georgia's A.J. Green light up their secondary for nine catches with 164 yards and two touchdowns and then Arkansas's Greg Childs had nine catches, 164 yards and two scores.
Oregon happens to have a play making receiver in Jeff Maehl, who finished the season with 68 receptions, 944 yards, 12 touchdowns and averaged 13.87 yards per reception. Maehl could be that fairly unknown hero in tonight's game if Oregon is able to have some success against a porous Auburn secondary.
The two key superstar, household names in tonight's game are Auburn's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon's running back LaMichael James who happened to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. No team has found a way to stop or really even slow down Newton. It usually takes at least two defenders to take him out when he is running the ball and he has shown the arm strength and accuracy to beat teams who try to stack the line to stop him in the running game.
Everyone in the stadium knows what Auburn is doing in a short yardage play when Cam Newton is in shotgun, and that is he is going to run the ball himself in some fashion. When faced with a reasonable down and distance Newton converted on 28 of 38 third down runs with three yards or less to go. Oregon will need to try to get past the Auburn offensive line and hit Newton behind the line of scrimmage before he gets any momentum and starts eluding the Oregon linebackers and secondary.
As for LaMichael James, he is fast and elusive which is why even though he missed the season opening game against New Mexico he was able to be fifth in the nation in rushing yards. James averaged 153 yards per game on the ground, scored 21 touchdowns and averaged six yards per carry. Getting James in the open field for Oregon is the way he can become very dangerous.
Both teams' paths to the BCS title game were a little surprising. Prior to the season, Auburn was ranked 22nd and 23rd in the coaches and AP polls while Oregon was 11th in both. Oregon had questions surrounding the loss of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and who would replace them, while no one knew about Cam Newton. Oregon showed no mercy and was not challenged in any game for more then a half, while Auburn had a few bumps in the road with narrow wins over Kentucky, Mississippi State and they needed a massive come from behind victory over Alabama. Plus, Auburn was dealing with the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal that surrounded the team for over a month and ultimately led the NCAA to find no wrong doings by Newton.
Hopefully tonight's game lives up to the hype and that the offenses come to play and that this title game avoids any USC-Oklahoma type title game in a blowout. If Auburn does win this game then it will be the SEC's fifth straight BCS title game.
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