GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Dyer was one of those “can’t-miss” prospects coming out of high school a year ago.
On Monday night, he was the dynamo putting the finishing touches on Auburn’s first national championship in 53 years.
“This is why I came to Auburn, to play in these kind of games and to have this kind of feeling,” Dyer said. “I was ready for whatever role they wanted to give me tonight.”
As it turns out, his role was the difference in Auburn’s 22-19 win over Oregon in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
Running with fresh legs, Dyer rushed for a game-high 143 yards on 22 carries. And on a night when Cam Newton was a mere mortal, Dyer was the Tigers’ go-to guy on their game-winning drive.
After Oregon tied the game at 19 with 2:33 to play, Dyer ripped off a 37-yard run that stopped everybody in their tracks -- literally.
Initially, it looked like Dyer was down about halfway through the run, but he actually landed on top of an Oregon defender and bounced back on his feet.
For a second, everybody stopped, thinking the play was over.
But with the Auburn coaches yelling from the sideline, not to mention some of his teammates, Dyer took off again and wasn’t dragged down until the Oregon 23-yard line.
“I didn’t hear a whistle, not yet, so I was kind of looking like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Dyer said. “But then I heard Darvin (Adams) saying, ‘Come on.’ ”
Dyer didn’t play in the first quarter Monday. He never carried it more than 14 times in Auburn’s four games leading up to the title game.
He’d said last week that he was ready for as many carries as the Tigers wanted to give him.
They gave him 22 in their most important game of the season, and he delivered.
After the 37-yard gain, he exploded through a hole and rambled for what appeared to be a touchdown. A review said he was down at the 1, paving the way for Wes Byrum’s 19-yard field goal to win it as time expired.
“We knew he was a big-time back,” Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “We were pacing him a little bit, and he was ready when we called his number.”
Dyer, named the offensive player of the game, gained 57 of the Tigers’ 73 yards on their game-winning drive.
“Throughout the game, I was just waiting for them to call my plays,” Dyer said. “I was patient. I know my role on our offense, and I’m always pleased with it.”
Something says the Auburn faithful are equally pleased with him.