Posted by Chip Patterson
It was not the game we expected, mostly. We figured it would be a classic, and we knew that it would be the ultimate test for two very well-coached teams. But we did not figure to see the kinds of defensive performances that we saw out of Oregon and Auburn on Monday evening in Glendale. Both defensive units came out well-prepared and charged up to make a statement, after hearing more than a month of hype for the opposing offenses. But when two teams are as good as Auburn and Oregon, you knew there were going to be big plays.
In the end, the most significant plays were made by true freshman Michael Dyer, who converted two game-clinching runs with the game tied at 19 with less than three minutes remaining. First there was the 37 yard scramble, where Dyer rolled over the defender without letting his knee touch the ground. When Dyer stood up and saw his teammates screaming at him to run, he took off down the field to put the Tigers in field goal range. Just when you began trying to center the ball for kicker Wes Byrum, Dyer broke loose again for 16 yards to move the ball to the 1 yard line. Byrum, Auburn's career scoring leader, finished his career by nailing the chip shot to give Auburn the 22-19 win the BCS National Championship.
Auburn become the fifth straight National Champion from the SEC, and amongst a season of off-field turmoil, no team has overcome more across the entire season than the Tigers. Auburn started the season ranked outside the Top 20 in the polls, and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was able to do what eight other Heisman winners weren't able to do - win in the BCS National Championship Game.
In the end Oregon will look back at this game and have a lot of regrets. Turning the ball over on downs at the goal line, six costly penalties, and simply being unable to impose their will against Auburn's defense will haunt Ducks fans when they remember this night against the Tigers. The Oregon defense did their part, holding Cam Newton in check as much as they could. But Auburn, as a team, was too good on this particular night. When Newton couldn't impose his will, Dyer did. When Auburn's offense couldn't score, the Tigers defense stepped up and kept Oregon from doing so as well. The focus may have been on a few players, but we were reminded on the biggest stage what kind of team effort it takes to win a National Championship.