With 10 seconds left, in a 19-19 game, Cam Newton and the Auburn offense stepped to the 1 yard line to punch the ball across the goal line to cap their perfect season and capture the National Championship. The Oregon defense stopped Newton on a quarterback sneak where Newton seemed more concerned with holding the ball than scoring the touchdown. This left the National Championship riding on the right foot of seldom-mentioned, senior place-kicker Wes Byrum, who confidently kicked a 19 yard chip shot to give Auburn its first National Championship since 1957.
It wasn’t Cam Newton’s size and strength that controlled the game. It wasn’t Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense that dominated the game. The much-maligned defenses from both these teams held the opposing offense in check. Auburn’s defensive line was much bigger and was much more physical than the Oregon offensive line, holding the Ducks in check and containing the explosive rushing attack to just 75 yards on 32 attempts. Oregon played a bend-but-don’t-break, opportunistic style of defense. Auburn gained 519 yards offensively, but the Oregon defense came up with a fumble, an interception, several big stops on 3rd down, and a 4th down goal line stand to prevent an Auburn touchdown. The Oregon defense held Auburn to its lowest point total of the season, and the Auburn defense held Oregon to its second-lowest point total of the season.
However, the game was not without any offensive fireworks. Cam Newton completed first half touchdown passes to Emory Blake and Kodi Burns for 30 and 35 yards, respectively. Oregon went 55 yards in 2 minutes for a touchdown in the 4th quarter, and converted a 2 point conversion when leading 9-7 in the 2nd quarter. Auburn freshman Michael Dyer rushed for 143 yards, including a 37 yard run where he was thought to be down, and then a 16 yard run to the 1 yard line that led to the game winning field goal.
The big story is, and will continue to be, Cam Newton. Newton was declared ineligible for a few hours this season before he was reinstated for the SEC Championship Game against South Carolina. He has been under investigation for much of the season by the NCAA for improper benefits received in a pay-for-play plan from Auburn. He won the Heisman Trophy amongst these allegations, and amidst 30+ days of distractions between games, threw for 2 touchdowns and accounted for over 300 total yards to bring Auburn its first National Championship in 53 years. Now the country waits to hear Newton’s decision regarding the NFL Draft, and the deadline to declare for the draft is Saturday, January 15th.
Congrats to Auburn for winning the 2011 BCS National Championship. As Coach Gene Chizik proclaimed to the Auburn fans after the game, “War Eagle!”