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Auburn wins BCS title 22-19 over Oregon

Fans pack Toomer's Corner 1/10/2011 Fans pack Toomer's Corner 1/10/2011
Long lines to get into the Academy Sports store for Auburn National Champions merchandise. Long lines to get into the Academy Sports store for Auburn National Champions merchandise.

By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Wes Byrum kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired and No. 1 Auburn beat No. 2 Oregon 22-19 to win the BCS national championship Monday night.

Oregon had tied it at 19 with 2:33 left when Darron Thomas connected with Jeff Maehl on a tying 2-point conversion after LaMichael James scored on a shovel pass. Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Auburn came right back with a 73-yard drive, with freshman Michael Dyer making the key plays. First he rolled over an Oregon tackler and, with most of the players thinking the play was over around midfield, scooted another 30 yards to the 23. A play later, Dyer went through the middle for 16 to the 1.

After Newton was pushed back a yard, Byrum came on with 2 seconds left to kick the winner and give Auburn its first national championship since 1957 and the Southeastern Conference's fifth in a row.

Cam Newton's passing and a goal line stand helped No. 1 Auburn build a 19-11 lead over No. 2 Oregon after three quarters of the BCS national championship game on Monday night. The Heisman Trophy winner threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter and Nick Fairley and the Auburn defense made the biggest play in the third quarter at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Auburn led 16-11 at halftime as the Tigers rolled up 258 yards in the second quarter and picked up right where they left off at the start of the third. The Tigers drove into the red zone, but stalled and settled for Wes Byrum's 28-yard field goal to make it 19-11.

Oregon had its best chance to score on its second possession of the third quarter, using a faked punt in its own territory to keep the ball and a 43-yard pass from Darron Thomas to Lavasier Tuinei, who made a juggling catch, to get down to the Auburn 3. The first Oregon run went backwards, but the next two left Oregon at the 1 facing fourth down. Thomas handed to Kenjon Barner, but he didn't get close to the goal line, with throng of Auburn defenders stacking him up for no gain.

Oregon started the scoring with a 26-yard field goal by Rob Beard on the second play of the second quarter, then Newton and the Tigers put together their first sustained drive to take the lead. Newton gave a slight pump-fake to freeze a defender and hit Kodi Burns in the middle of the field. Burns, the former quarterback bumped to receiver when Newton arrived before this season, leaped into the end zone for a 35-yard score and a 7-3 lead with 12:00 left in the second quarter.

The Ducks struck right back. Backed up to his own 7, Thomas sailed a deep ball down the middle for Jeff Mahel, who went 81 yards to the Auburn 12. It was the longest play from scrimmage in the 13-year history of the BCS championship game and the Ducks' ninth play this season of more than 60 yards. Three plays later, Thomas hooked up with LaMichael James, the nation's leading rusher, on a screen pass that worked to perfection for an 8-yard touchdown. Instead of kicking the extra point, Oregon faked it with holder Jackson Rice pitching to kicker Beard, who dived in for the 2-point conversion to make it 11-7. The four-play, 93-yard drive took all of 57 seconds, typical for the fast-paced Ducks.

Auburn marched right back down, going 68 yards in 15 plays before facing fourth-and-goal at the 1. Coach Gene Chizik went for it, stacking the backfield with potential blockers for his 250-pound quarterback. But Newton faked the run and floated a pass to running back Eric Smith, who was open in the end zone. The pass was a bit short and Smith let it slip through his arms to the turf as he slipped down. What seemed like a momentum-changer for Oregon turned out just fine for Auburn. After an illegal motion penalty on the Ducks moved the ball back inside the 1, defensive tackle Mike Blanc cut through the Oregon line and undercut James in the end zone for a safety to make it 11-9 with 3:25 left in the half.

The Tigers' offense likes to move fast, too, and it quickly drove 66 yards in six plays, with Newton hooking up with Emory Blake for a 30-yard scoring pass. That drive took 1:34 off the clock and made it 16-11.

The first quarter featured three turnovers, several big hits and three punts. Not exactly what was expected from two teams that combined to average 93 points and more than 1,000 yards per game. Newton was intercepted by Oregon's Cliff Harris and sacked twice. Auburn's Demond Washington and Zac Etheridge each intercepted passes by Thomas.

Auburn was making its first appearance in the BCS title game and trying to become the fifth straight SEC team to win it in Chizik's second season as coach. Oregon, the first Pac-10 team other than Southern California to play in the BCS title game, was looking for its first national championship. Auburn's won only one, in 1957.

The game turned out to be one of the most sought after tickets in recent sports history, with some going for as much as $7,000 on some of the online resale websites. A snow storm across the Deep South, however, left at least a few Auburn fans who had planned to fly in the day of the game, unable to get out of Alabama. Before the game, a moment of silence was held for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the mass shooting in Tucson, about 125 miles south of Glendale.

GAME NOTES/FACTS

* Auburn team captains were OT Lee Ziemba, WR Kodi Burns, LB Josh Bynes and S Zac Etheridge. Bo Jackson was an honorary captain.

* Oregon won the toss and elected to receive.

* Game attendance was announced as 78,603, which is the largest in University of Phoenix Stadium history. 

BSC GAME OFFENSIVE MVP: Michael Dyer (RB) BSC GAME DEFENSIVE MVP: Nick Fairley (DL) 

TEAM NOTES 

*Auburn won its second NCAA Championship, and its first since 1957.

*Auburn finished the season with a perfect 14-0 record, setting a school record for victories in a season. The Tigers went 13-0 in 2004.

*Auburn finished with a perfect record for the seventh time. The Tigers also had perfect records in 1900, 1904, 1913, 1957, 1993 and 2004.

*Auburn improved to 21-13-2 all-time in bowl games. Auburn's 21 bowl victories ranks tied for 12th most in NCAA history.

*Auburn head coach Gene Chizik is now 8-0 all-time in bowl games as a head or assistant coach.

*Auburn has now beaten seven teams that are currently ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll and BCS standings.

*Auburn won its sixth game this season against a team that was nationally ranked at the time of the game, marking the first time the Tigers have ever won six games against ranked teams in a single season. 

*Auburn won the first ever meeting between the two schools and now has a 6-3 record in games against current Pac-10 schools, including a 3-0 record in bowl games.

*Auburn came from behind to win for the ninth time this season. The Tigers trailed 3-0 and 11-7 in the second quarter.

*Auburn scored 22 points, pushing the Tigers* single-season school record to 577 points.

*Auburn's offense ran a season high and BCS National Championship game record 85 plays.

*Auburn totaled 519 yards of offense and had 254 yards rushing, extending the school single-season records in both of those categories. The Tigers finished the season with 6,989 yards of total offense, including 3,987 yards rushing.

*Auburn*s 254 yards rushing ranks 3rd all-time in the BCS National Championship game.  

*Auburn*s 519 yards of offense marked the eighth time this season the Tigers have rolled up at least 500 yards of offense.

*Auburn*s 519 yards of offense was the 4th most in BCS National Championship history.

*Auburn played its first scoreless first quarter (both teams) of the season. It marked just the third time this year that the Tigers did not score in the first quarter (Clemson, Alabama).

*Oregon scored first on a 26-yard field goal. It marked the seventh time this season that Auburn's opponent scored first.

*Auburn intercepted two passes in the first quarter, giving the Tigers two picks in both the SEC Championship Game and the BCS National Championship Game. The Tigers had only picked off two passes twice during the 12 game regular season, including none of the last five games.

*Auburn led 16-11 at halftime. It marked the ninth game this season that the Tigers led at the break.

*The Tigers led 19-11 after three quarters and have led after three periods in 11 of their 14 games.

*Auburn's 28 first downs on offense ranks first all time in Auburn bowl history.
 

CAM NEWTON NOTES

*Cam Newton became the 14th player in NCAA history to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season.

*Newton became the third player in the BCS era to win the Heisman Trophy and the BCS National Championship. Heisman Trophy winners are now 4-7 in the BCS National Championship Game.

*Newton accounted for 2 touchdowns (both passing), pushing his school record total to 51 touchdowns this season, which is second most in a season in SEC history. Newton is one of just three players in NCAA FBS history to total 20 rushing and 20 passing touchdowns in a single season.

*Newton completed 20-of-34 passes for 265 yards and 2 touchdown passes. He now has 30 TD passes this season, extending his own school single-season record. His 2,854 yards passing is second most in a season in school history.

*Newton was 0-of-1 on the opening drive. For the season, he is now 19-for-20 for 300 yards and three touchdowns on Auburn's opening drives this season.

*Newton rushed for 64 yards on 22 carries, pushing his season total to 1,473 yards, which ranks third in Auburn history and extends his SEC record for yards rushing by a quarterback in a single season.

*Newton ends the season having scored 21 touchdowns (20 rushing and one receiving), giving him 126 points scored this season, extending his Auburn single-season record for most points scored that ranks 6th in SEC history.

*Newton had 329 yards of offense, pushing his season total to 4,327 yards, breaking the SEC single-season record for total offense formerly held by Tim Tebow (4,181 in 2007).

*Newton now has 1,586 career rushing yards including his time at Florida, pushing him into the top 10 in career rushing yards by a quarterback in SEC history. Newton now ranks 10th in SEC history. 

MORE PLAYER NOTES 

*OT Lee Ziemba extended his consecutive starts streak to 52 games, extending his own school records for starts and consecutive starts.

*Michael Dyer rushed for 143 yards on 22 carries, giving him 1,093 rushing yards this season, extending his Auburn freshman rushing record.

*Dyer's 143 yards rushing marked the fourth time he rushed for over 100 yards this season.

*Dyer's 37-yard rush in the fourth quarter kept with it after lying on top of an Oregon player down field (apparently short of a first-down). Dyer was not ruled down and got back on his feet to complete a 37 yard run to the Oregon 23. The play was reviewed, and the call on the field was upheld.

*Dyer's 143 yards rushing is the third-highest rushing total by an Auburn back and most ever by a Freshman in Auburn bowl history

*Dyer and Newton both finished the season with more than 1,000 yards rushing, marking just the second time in Auburn history that the Tigers had two 1,000-yard rushers in a single season. In 1979, James Brooks (1,208 yards) and Joe Cribbs (1,120) both eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing. 

*Darvin Adams had 4 catches for 48 yards, pushing his career totals to 115 career catches for 1,978 career yards, which both rank sixth in school history.

*Nick Fairley had 3 tackles for loss including a quarterback sack, extending his school single-season record for tackles for loss to 24, and his sack gave him 11.5 this season, which is also a school record.

*Wes Byrum scored 8 points, pushing his Auburn career-record total to 363 points, which ranks fifth in SEC history.

*Byrum's 19-yard field-goal as time expired, was his sixth game-winning field goal of his career.

*Onterio McCalebb rushed for 47 yards on 6 carries, finishing the season with 810 yards rushing on 95 carries. McCalebb*s average of 8.53 yards per rush set a new Auburn single-season record, breaking the previous record of 8.44 by Tommy Lorino in 1956.

*Demond Washington intercepted his second pass of the season and third of his career in the first quarter.

*Zac Etheridge had his third interception of the season and fourth of his career to stop another drive in the first quarter.

*Kodi Burns caught his first touchdown pass of the season and the second of his career, hauling in a 35-yard strike from Newton in the second quarter.

*Mike Blanc collected a safety in the second quarter, marking the Tigers'* first safety since Josh Bynes had one against Ball State in 2009.

*Emory Blake's 30-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his eighth TD catch of the season, which is sixth most in a single season in school history.

*Philip Lutzenkirchen*s 39-yard catch in the third quarter was the longest reception of his career. His previous long was a 26-yard catch against ULM earlier this season.

*Byrum's 28-yard field goal in the third quarter and his 19-yard field goal as time expired was the 59th and 60th field goals of his career, extending his school record.

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