Auburn University, for the first time since 1957, wins the Tostitos National Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks 22-19 in spectacular fashion.
From beginning to the end, this was a defensive battle on both sides of the ball. From a scoreless first quarter, to an offensive explosion in the second quarter, to the game being decided by a field goal in the final seconds and huge defensive stops in the third and fourth quarters. We will recap with highlights from each quarter.
FINAL STATS FOR THE NIGHT
Cam Newton: PASSING- 20/34 265 yards for 2 Tds 1 INT RUSHING: 22 CARRIES for 64 yards 0 Tds
Michael Dyer: 22 CARRIES for 143 yards 0 Tds
Emory Blake: 4 REC, 54 YARDS 1 TD
OREGON- LEADER STATS
Darron Thomas: 27-40 for 363 YARDS, 2 Tds 2INTs
LaMichael James: RUSHING- 13 CARRIES for 49 YARDS 0TDs receiving: 4 REC for 39 YARDS 2TDs
Jeff Maehl: 9 REC for 133 YARDS 0 Tds
The turf at The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona, torn up and redone after the Fiesta Bowl 10 days ago. Throughout the first half, players, especially on return situations were losing their footing and slipping all over the field. Oregon won the coin toss and opted to receive. On their first drive, Oregon QB Darron Thomas was intercepted by AU’s Demond Washington, giving AU favorable field position on their first drive. Heisman winner Cam Newton lead the AU offense to a three and out on their first drive, only to be intercepted on their next drive by Oregon’s star cornerback/punt returner Cliff Harris on the first play. Oregon was the first team to the red-zone, but was stuffed by a stout AU defensive front, with Nick Fairley coming off the corner. Oregon would make one more trip to the red-zone at the end of the first, with AU’s offense barely making anything happen in the first set of regulation.
Oregon would be the first to score for the game, with a Rob Beard 26 yard field goal. This would be a first of several stellar AU defensive stands in the end-zone, especially on this particular drive, with Oregon having a 1st and goal on AU’s 4. On AU’s next drive, after completing a first down, Cam Newton was once again picked off by Cliff Harris, but it was ruled an incomplete pass due to Harris not having control of the ball and stepping out of bounds with it. AU continues to roll on. By the 12:00 mark, AU had their first touchdown, a 35 yard pass to Kodi Burns to make it 7-3 AU. Oregon answered back on their next drive, with a 9 yard pass to LaMichael James from Thomas, and a two point conversion and a FG Fake by Rob Beard to put the Ducks on top 11-7. The Ducks were plagued with penalties all night, most of them in this 2nd QT, that allowed AU to get better field position as they drove down-field trying to score before the end of the 1st half. Before the end of the 2nd half, Oregon made a huge defensive stop on their own as AU didn’t convert a 4th and goal on OREGON’S 1 yard line. The Ducks takeover on downs, and a few plays later, LaMichael James is stopped in Duck’s end-zone, for an AU SAFETY, making the score 11-9 OREGON. As AU gets the ball back after the safety, they end the 2nd QT with a 30 yard pass from Cam Newton to Emory Blake, to make the score 16-11, with 1:39 left in the first half.
AU receives the ball at halftime, and the AU offense seems to be getting warmed up as the drive down the field, eating away at the clock. Newton and the offense drove into the red-zone, where on ORE 11, at the 11:30 mark score on a Wes Byrum field goal, to make the score 19-11. This drive, an 8 play, 60 yard drive, showed Newton’s ability to throw middle ranged screen passes into well planned areas, and his receivers made plays to continue the drive. Throughout the 2nd half, Oregon allowed AU to convert multiple 3rd downs, allowing drives that could have been stopped in AU territory to move into ORE territory. A great example of Newton’s and AU’s ability to take time of possession away from the other team; it was also a great example AU wearing down Oregon’s defensive front. By the end of the 3rd QT, AU running back Michael Dyer was beginning to get warmed up.
On the Duck’s next drive, it seemed apparent that Lombardi Trophy winner Nick Fairley was getting to his rough and physical play. A late hit on LaMichael James and a strip of James that caused as fumble (that the Ducks recovered) got Oregon off the field, punting at the end of this drive at AU’s 20 on 4th and 14. After an unsuccessful AU Drive (another which Newton threw passes that were catchable by receivers and easily could have been touchdowns to open guys), Oregon’s next drive was powered by a successful FAKE PUNT (another stellar play by the Ducks special teams unit) on a 4th and 8 on their own 43 (Jackson pass complete to Marvin Johnson). AU begins to come after Thomas with fast blitzes, allowing Fairley to speedily get to his collapsed pocket and wreck any plans for a Oregon score in this QT. Another trip to the red-zone for Oregon called for another spectacular AU defensive stand, with a dejected OREGON HEAD COACH Chip Kelly on the sidelines after the failed 4th down conversion allowed AU to take over on downs.
By the time the 4th QT begins, AU QB Cam Newton begins shaky, missing 5 of his first 6 passes, continuing from the last drive of the 3rd QT for AU. They end their drive with a punt. Neither team is making progress offensively, for the simple fact that both defenses were better than advertised, despite AU’s secondary giving up their usual big plays. By the middle of this drive, Cam Newton had been hit hard, and was shaken and visibly injured by the end of AU’s last few drives, slow to get up, to get to the huddle, etc. Despite his pain, Newton drove AU down the field, only to be stopped. After Newton’s 18 yard run off a QB Sneak that left him shaken up, AU continued to drive. After Oregon called a timeout at the 5:00 mark, Newton fumbled from a hit by Cliff Harris at AU’s 40 yard line, and a dead ball penalty for personal foul gave the Ducks excellent field position. As the Ducks drove down the field, they score with the help of Nick Fairley jumping off-sides to give them 1st and goal from AU’s 5 1/2 yard line (previous possession was 1st and goal on AU’s 11). Great defensive play by AU was squelched by a 2 yard TOUCHDOWN pass from Thomas to James with 2:36 left in the game, and a successful two-point conversion tied the score 19-19 all.
Then the last 2:35 are exciting:
- 2:33 IN 4TH QT AU 1ST AND 10 ON OWN 25 BEARD KICKOFF FOR 67 YARDS TO WASHINGTON FOR 22 YARDS TO AU 25
- 1ST AND TEN AT AU 25 NEWTON PASS COMPLETE TO BLACK FOR 15 YARDS TO AU 40
- PLAY UNDER REVIEW: DYER DOWN AND GETS UP AND KEEPS GOING, AU CHALLENGING that DYER WAS NOT DOWN, THEN GETS UP TO MAKE SURE HE WAS ELLIGIBLE TO GET UP AND CONTINUE RUNNING
- 1:56 ruling on the field stands AU 1ST AND 10 ON ORE 29 AFTER DYER 37 YARDS TO ORE 23
- scoring drive under review for Dyer TD RUN RUNNERS KNEE WAS DOWN 1st and Goal on ½ yard line still 19-19 all
- AU WINS BY A WES BYRUM FIELD GOAL FOR 19 YARDS AS TIME EXPIRES, AU WINS 22-19 AND THE BCS TITLE
An exciting, mostly defensive game by both teams. This brings the SEC its fifth national championship in a row: LSU, Florida twice, Alabama last year, and now Auburn.
Is it safe to say the BCS=SEC?