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The play from the 2011 BCS National Championship Game that Oregon Ducks fans are going to replay over and over — the all but game-sealing 37-yard run by Auburn Tigers RB Michael Dyer, during which Dyer initially appeared to be down. He hopped up and ran deep into field goal territory once Auburn’s sideline realized the whistle hadn’t blown. Upon further review, Dyer kind of, well, was down:
That wrist is clearly down, and there’s a clear precedent in a BCS bowl game from last week featuring an SEC team -- and a Big Ten team, too, with tonight's game reffed by Big Ten officials -- that a downed wrist counts as a play-ending event. Plus it's, you know, in the rule book.
Does it really matter? Probably not. These things happen anyway. Dyer showed just a few plays later that he was likely going to break another run anyway, as he nearly scored a touchdown later in the drive. And Wes Byrum could’ve certainly made the game-winning field goal from farther away than one yard out. But try telling that to a Ducks fan right now.
The Auburn Tigers have given the SEC one for the thumb, winning the conference’s fifth-straight BCS National Championship Game in a 22-19 HAM NEWTON of a game against the Oregon Ducks. A brief recounting of the silly-ass scoring throughout the first three quarters here, though that was nothing compared to the final quarter.
On third down from Auburn’s goal line, and just after a Nick Fairley penalty, Darron Thomas found LaMichael James for a two-yard touchdown, then a two-point conversion to Jeff Maehl to tie it up. The Tigers then had 2:33 to attempt to retake the lead.
The drive might not have ended up such a chip shot for kicker Wes Byrum if not for two amazing Michael Dyer runs, the first of which seemed to end as Dyer toppled onto an Oregon defender. Dyer stood as his sideline exhorted him to keep running, which he did. After another look, his wrist appeared to touch the turf, which has been enough to rule a player down in previous bowl games this year, but whatever. Dyer broke for 37 yards to just about seal it.
These teams combined for 975 yards of offense, and pretty evenly split those yards too. Auburn’s defense alternated between completely overwhelming Oregon’s offensive line and getting hands-on-hips winded, while Oregon held Cam Newton to only 65 yards rushing.
Dyer and Fairley were named the players of the game, with Dyer running for 143 yards and Fairley dropping six plays for losses.
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Auburn Tigers 19, Oregon Ducks 11. Hey, that’s a pretty weird score! How in the world did we arrive at such a total? Let’s recount the BCS Championship Game’s very odd first 40 minutes.
The Oregon Ducks put up three points early in the second quarter, followed by a Cam Newton touchdown pass. Nothing weird so far. Then after a LaMichael James touchdown, the Ducks elected to go for two for incalculable reasons, converting to make it 11-7. But that wasn’t James’ only two-point play!
Mike Blanc brought down James in Oregon’s end zone for a safety, with another Newton touchdown pass on the way shortly after. 16-11, and an Auburn field goal brought us to 19-11. High hopes for an Oregon touchdown here with another two-point conversion, giving us perhaps the world’s first 19-19 football game.
Tables have turned on the yardage front — Oregon held a 100-yard advantage throughout the first half, but Auburn has now outgained the Ducks 343 to 282. That plus a turnover margin and that safety means the Ducks are mighty fortunate to only be down by eight points, no matter how weird it is to be down by eight points.
And now our BCS Championship Game shootout is underway. We’ve had three scores between the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers in the first five minutes of the second quarter, including a surprise two-point conversion.
Auburn QB Cam Newton threw a 35-yard touchdown to Kodi Burns to give Auburn a brief lead, with Oregon QB Darron Thomas following shortly later with an 81-yard pass to Jeff Maehl that set up an eight-yard touchdown to LaMichael James.
The Ducks chased their touchdown with a two-point conversion run by Rob Beard — and we’re still crunching the numbers on exactly why that happened, but it was probably for a very good cause.
Auburn has driven well past midfield already, and we are underway. Oregon has still outgained Auburn by almost 100 yards, 212 to 126, but yards aren’t going to matter for much once Auburn discovers a four-point play.
The 2011 BCS National Championship Game was billed as a shootout. Would you believe the Oregon Ducks scored the first points of the game early in the second quarter, and that it came on a field goal? The Ducks have outgained the Auburn Tigers by over 100 yards already, but two Darron Thomas interceptions cut short potentially promising drives.
Tigers DT Nick Fairley and others are making their share of big plays, but Auburn’s defense is very clearly getting winded already. A slick field isn’t making the job easier for either defense, though Oregon’s D seems to be having far less trouble.
Cam Newton has also thrown a pick and took a sack that very nearly became a loose football. Ducks RB Kenjon Barner alone has more yards than Auburn’s entire attack.
Auburn fans shouldn’t loose their minds as of yet, and they won’t. The Tigers have been in far bigger holes than this, though not to an offense as capable as Oregon’s. And their defense hasn’t shown signs of wear this early in a game before.
Oregon Ducks QB Darron Thomas, the triggerman of Chip Kelly’s nation-leading offense, isn’t quite as well-known as his Heisman Trophy finalist halfback, LaMichael James. But Thomas has been as critical to Oregon’s success as any other player has.
Producing the nation’s 34th-highest total offense figure is impressive, but keep in mind his role as a distributor. If statisticians somehow could value option football the same way they do the passing game, Thomas’ role in delivering the ball to James when it’s most beneficial would be more appreciated.
He’s also 17th nationally in passer rating and throwing only seven interceptions — despite playing a tough Pac-10 schedule.
And he could’ve wound up at either LSU or Florida.
The Tigers had Thomas as a commit in 2008, but also brought on Jordan Jefferson and another quarterback. The Gators also offered him, but had John Brantley and Cam Newton on the roster. Had Thomas gone to Florida he could’ve done a much more convincing job than Brantley of running through the death shudders of Steve Addazio’s option offense than Brantley could, but it still would’ve been a waste of talent.
Still, can you imagine Newton and Thomas taking on the multi-QB gimmickry Urban Meyer shoehorned into Florida’s 2010 attack?
In advance of tonight’s college football national championship, the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks matchup is going to show us a lot about the SEC. On the field, of course, as the conference is up for its fifth-straight BCS Championship. This game could be one of its toughest tests yet, with the Ducks and their rocketship offense actually favored over the Tigers at one point.
But what will we learn about SEC solidarity tonight? It’s no secret that Auburn’s rise to the top hasn’t been quite as widely appreciated around the conference as those of LSU, Florida, or Alabama. There’s the perception of Tigers fans having a nouveau riche air, along with not-yet-disproven allegations of cheating in the recruitment of Cam Newton, plus dirty play by Nick Fairley. And what many perceived to be cheerleading of Fairley’s play by Trooper Taylor, though I think Taylor really was trying to get Fairley off the field.
And let’s not even mention the program’s history — they’ve gotten caught cheating more than any other SEC school, and thus have degraded the conference’s proper cheating reputation.The SEC’s anti-Auburn insurgency isn’t composed just of Dawgs fans mad about Aaron Murray, either. If Auburn fans are expecting their rivals to rally as is custom in one last grand chorus of SEC! for God and conference before the desert night closes, they might find themselves hollering in the wilderness alone.
Auburn has to know they’re the bad guys here, even for the non-SEC viewer. Oregon is fun, different, and has a big duck. Big ducks matter.
I might be wrong, of course. If the Ducks’ offense offends the eye of the Southeastern football fan just so, the tides (…) could turn. I’d describe their thoughts before the game as mixed, but these things change.
Or they could lose, at which point they’d immediately know where they stand.
Auburn Tigers fans are having a hard time getting out of Atlanta, the nation’s Auburnest big city. Delta and Airtran alone have canceled hundreds of flights. I flew out last night, witnessing hordes of Auburn fans and one energetic Oregon Ducks fan in a LaMichael James jersey, but Hartsfield was covered in white by early last night.
Can’t speak for every flight, but I know lots of flights this morning were shoving each other on down throughout the day. Alabama’s in the same situation as Atlanta, with ice storms hitting Auburn University’s area, so there are likely to be some empty seats in Glendale that would’ve otherwise propped up War Eaglemen.
Oregon fans, being somewhat Yankees, will laugh at all this and point to their talents at driving in the rain, as it never snows in Oregon (does it?). Northerners of every fashion think snow-dusted Atlanta is the funniest thing in the world, yet Atlantans don’t even notice the moment each summer when some town like Chicago refers to four straight days of 91-degree weather as a “heat wave.” So whatever.
Just let us freak out about two inches of snow, and how it’s souring Auburn’s title game, in peace.
The Auburn Tigers had their share of bad luck when it comes to competing for a national title. In 1993, they went undefeated with head coach Terry Bowden, but they were under probation. In 2004, they went undefeated under head coach Tommy Tuberville, but they were the odd man out due to the BCS rankings.
This time, they have a prefect record with Gene Chizik and will compete for the national title when they take on the Oregon Ducks in the BCS National Championship game on Monday.
When it comes to Auburn, it starts and ends with quarterback Cam Newton who has won award after award for his play this season. Newton is dangerous at running with the ball and is underrated as a passer. In order for the Tigers to win, he will have to play like he has all season long.
But as potent as the Oregon offense has been all season, the Auburn defense will be also a key factor for a win. The defense tends to give up big plays, but when Nick Fairley is on his game, it will be a tough day for LaMichael James and Darron Thomas to get anything going.
If Auburn gets off to a fast start, they should come away with a win. But they have to force Oregon to turn the ball over because like Auburn, the Ducks can score points in bunches. Regardless, it should be a great game between the two best teams in the country. Sorry TCU.
The Oregon Ducks come into the big game with a chip on their shoulder because the Auburn Tigers are getting all the attention, despite both teams having the same record. Auburn may have the current Heisman trophy winner in Cam Newton, Oregon has running back LaMichael James who is also a game changer.
James currently has 1,682 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns and some people have already proclaimed him as the best back in Oregon history. What's even better is that he will return to the Ducks for the 2011 season and hold off on the NFL draft.
With James in the lineup it makes Darron Thomas' job a lot easier at QB. Thomas has thrown for 2,518 yards wit 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Not bad for a player that hasn't taken a snap since 2008.
But if the Ducks are going to win the game on January 10, the defense has to make plays against an aggressive Auburn offense. The Ducks are ranked 25th in the country in total defense and third in the county in takeaways. They are also sixth in the country in red zone defense which is something fans who don't follow Oregon football wouldn't know.
So if Oregon want's to win the national title, they will have to make plays on both sides of the ball, which they are very capable of doing. The question is can they do it against Auburn, the most physical team Oregon has faced all year?
From looking up predictions from the major websites, I think that it is safe to say that people are very evenly split on this game. Of the six major sources, each team picked up three predictions. And even within each site, the contributing experts were heavily divided.
|Fanhouse||Ducks||Brett McMurphy makes his picks including the spread, and likes Oregon +2½.|
|Rivals.com||Tigers||The consensus is Auburn, but it is a close margin. The four writers are split at two apiece, with the tiebreaker being decided by a 58% vote by Yahoo users for Auburn.|
|CBS Sports||Ducks||Four votes out of five for Oregon, with Dennis Dodd as the lone dissenter.|
|USA Today||Tigers||Auburn gets 6 votes from the 8-person panel.|
|What If Sports||Ducks||This one is a bit of a surprise. The simulations prdict a 38-32 win for Oregon, and has the Ducks winning 69% of the time.|
|Sportsnation||Tigers||Out of about 405,000 votes, 52% think Auburn will win.|
I will continue to add predictions as they are published. If I missed any, add them in the comments.
Here in Atlanta, the weathermen are predicting a large cold front to move in this weekend that could potentially drop a few inches of snow in the city on Monday. In Glendale, Arizona, the weather is unsurprisingly much nicer.
Weather.com is predicting a pretty consistent temperature range for the next few days, with highs in the 60s and the lows barely dropping into the high-30s. There is also a 0% chance of precipitation across the board for the next week.
There isn't much of a variation in the predictions from other sources as well. AccuWeather.com has pretty much the exact same forecast, as do most of the other sites.
How will the weather affect the game? It won't, as The University of Phoenix Stadium has a retractable roof. With the kickoff at 8:30 p.m. EST, the 6:30 p.m. local time could mean that the roof might be open at kickoff, but most likely will not be. The temperatures will be great for the tailgating during the day however.
Today, we take a look at the Oregon Ducks Top 3 NFL Prospects who most of non-Pac 10 fans will be introduced to for the first time Monday night.
ILB Casey Matthews – 6’1, 238lbs. Younger brother of current Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews. May not have the athleticism or pass rushing ability of his older brother but puts up tackle numbers and plays very smart. Could increase his draft stock significantly with a strong performance Monday night.
Mocking the Draft Prediction: Round 4-5 pick.
WR Jeff Maehl – 6’1, 184lbs. Seems to be picking up steam and may continue to rise in pre draft workouts and combine work. Actually came to Oregon as a Defensive Back. Not a burner and will likely run in the high 4.6 range in the 40. Tremendous hands and is a prototypical move the chain WR.
Mocking the Draft Prediction: Round 5-6 pick.
DT Brandon Bair – 6’6, 272lbs. Plays with very good leverage and actually led the Pac 10 in TFL in 2010. Extremely productive player and NFL Scouts have taken notice. He’s older than most RS Sr. prospects at 27 because of a 2 year Mormon mission which may drop him a round of two.
Mocking the Draft Prediction: Round 6-7 pick.
For more information about these players, detailed player/team profiles and everything related to the NFL Draft check out Mocking the Draft.
With the BCS Title Game looming, we take a look at the respective teams and their NFL Draft prospects. Two of these players you may be very familiar with and we may be introducing one prospect that could make an impact an NFL roster in 2011.
Auburn Top 3 NFL Prospects:
DT Nick Fairley – 6’5, 298lbs. Essentially every adjective is used to describe the 2010 Lombardi Winner: “Nasty”, “Disruptive”, “Dominant”, “Plays with a mean streak” (Oregon QB Darron Thomas and Georgia fans would supplement the word dirty here). He’s even been mentioned as a possible #1 overall pick now that Stanford’s Andrew Luck has decided to return to school.
Mocking the Draft Prediction: Top 5 pick.
QB Cameron Newton – 6’6, 247lbs. The most electric college football player since Michael Vick ran away with the Heisman Trophy and carried an above average Auburn team to the BCS Title game. NFL Scouts are impressed with every facet of his game: Completion of 67% of his passes (#7 in FBS), 188.16 QB rating (#1 in FBS), 1409 yards rushing (#13 in FBS) and 49 total TDs (28 passing, 20 rushing, 1 receiving) in 2010.
Mocking the Draft Prediction: Top 5 pick.
LT Lee Ziemba – 6’8, 319lbs. Cam Newton’s blind side protector and mountain of man. 51 straight starts at LT. Better run blocker than pass protector at this point. Better than average athlete for his size.
Mocking the Draft Prediction: Round 3 pick.
For these players, detailed player profiles and everything related to the NFL Draft check out Mocking the Draft.
Oregon Ducks QB Darron Thomas has called Auburn Tigers DT Nick Fairley a dirty player, according to ESPN’s Chris Low. Fairley has been criticized repeatedly for late hits and unnecessary roughness, especially when it comes to hitting quarterbacks.
“Oh yeah, we’ve seen he’s got a lot of dirty plays, throwing people around after the play and things like that,” Thomas said Thursday. “But that’s just football. I don’t worry about it because it’s a physical game.”
Among Fairley’s most egregious moments was his deliberate spine-spearing of Georgia Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray, for which the tackle was flagged. Later in that game Fairley knocked Murray out of the game by hitting his knee while falling to the ground. While the latter hit wasn’t dirty, his play throughout the game and reaction to having sidelined Murray have helped further develop his reputation as a dirty player.
Thomas isn’t complaining about Fairley’s play, only noting the obvious. Fairley is a dirty player. If Thomas wants to win a national title, he’ll have to contend with that.
NOW are we excited about the national title game?
Tickets for the 2011 BCS National Championship Game are the hottest in the history of StubHub, with prices currently ranging from almost $4,000 to over $15,000. The site basically ran out of tickets at one point, posting a notice that they’ll be unable to fulfill every order. At the moment, the game between the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks is hotter than the Super Bowl.
What makes this game so much bigger than in years past?
For one, neither school has been here before. Oregon has never won a national title, and Auburn hasn’t won one in decades. This isn’t Oklahoma vs. Florida— while that game was a big deal, it also seems to happen every year or so. Ohio State, USC, Texas…
Looking at previous BCS title games, I think these are just about the first two teams to make it that either haven’t made it before or wouldn’t have made it if the BCS had been around just a few years earlier. Tennessee, Florida State, and Nebraska, for example, had been national powers right before the BCS came along. Virginia Tech and LSU were sort of new blood, and Miami felt newish after a decade off. But this game presents something totally new on both sidelines, for the national fan at least. Auburn hasn’t finished a season ranked since 2007, fer crying out loud.
And they’re evenly matched teams, with neither team losing on the year, and clearly the two best teams in the country. Both teams have been favored to win this game at one point or another, unlike last year when Alabama was expected to pound Texas and pretty much did just that.
Besides, even if you’re not a fan of either team, you want to watch just to see which of these offenses will outscore the other. There hasn’t been a bigger college football star or curiosity than Cam Newton in decades, and that includes Tim Tebow, while Oregon’s entire offense is a star of its own.
And I don’t really know about Oregon fans, but Auburn fans are insane. Alabama’s legal system is on the verge of shutting down for this game.
Via event host Desmond Howard, here's a look at what the Oregon Ducks will be wearing for the BCS National Championship Game against the Auburn Tigers. These bowl unis are being unveiled at a Nike to-do in Dallas, Texas later this afternoon along with those of the Boise St. Broncos, TCU Horned Frogs, and Florida Gators, but Howard snapped a few around noon and decided to share:
That's nowhere near as outlandish as one may have feared, considering the combinations Oregon has pulled off in the past for non-national games and Nike's SHALL WE SAY bold Pro Combat series, though they do include yellow socks. Looks like a pretty standard Oregon uniform, apart from that helmet, which we'll get a better look at later.
Another look, via @WillBrinson:
Auburn should be rocking their traditional blue-and-whites, but with marble trim on their cleats. So far, best-dressed has to go to Oregon, if only to encourage them to show up looking like this more often.
For more Oregon, join Addicted To Quack.
The Oregon Ducks are set to show the world the uniforms they'll be wearing for the BCS National Championship Game tomorrow, but the Auburn Tigers have beaten them to the punch, revealing via @darrenrovell the cleats they'll be wearing for the game:
Thinking that one in the middle must be Cam Newton's, as it's got the most prominent Under Armour logo.
That's fancy marble patterning in there, if you can't see it. No doubt Oregon's first-ever national title game uniforms will be colossal spectacles that will cause every male over 40 to spend six minutes talking about Penn State and the Steelers -- after all, they dressed up like this for a game against lowly New Mexico -- but this is their moment, too. Let them be Oregon about it.
2011 BCS National Championship Game odds are only starting to trickle in, but it looks like the Oregon Ducks will start out as a very slight favorite over the Auburn Tigers. ESPN's gambling guy, Chad Millman, says the Hilton's line opened at Oregon -3 but has already slipped to Oregon -1.
Vegas probably started out with the line in the Ducks' favor because their offense has been even more explosive than Auburn's and they've only had one close call all year. Auburn has won six games by a single score, including a 24-point comeback, four by three or less, and an overtime win. Oregon's only single-score win came by two points over the California Golden Bears.
Early bettors moved the line down, likely because of (1) Cam Newton and (2) the SEC. Oregon's offense is one of the best ever, and its defense is very good too, but Newton might be the best college football player in decades. And the SEC has won four straight BCS title games -- that alone could swing them into being favorites within the first week of betting.
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