GLENDALE, Ariz. – Auburn made it five in a row for the SEC, winning a defensive battle of all things to defeat Oregon 22-19 on Monday night in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
Here’s an instant analysis of the game:
How the game was won: Auburn drove 73 yards in seven plays for Wes Byrum’s game-winning 19-yard field goal as time expired. The Tigers needed that final drive after Oregon scored and added the tying two-point conversion following a Cam Newton fumble. It wasn’t the offensive shootout everybody was predicting. The two defenses were the show most of the night, and Auburn made more plays on that side of the ball than Oregon.
Turning point: On Auburn’s second play during its game-winning drive, freshman running back Mike Dyer looked like he was down. But the whistle never blew, and he took off for a 37-yard gain down to the Oregon 23.
Turning point II: It looked like Auburn might be on the verge of putting the game away in the fourth quarter, but Newton had the ball poked out of his hands by Oregon’s Casey Matthews. The Ducks, trailing 19-11, took over and tied the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Star of the game: Even though Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley made one bonedhead play when he shoved LaMichael James in the helmet while James was on the ground, Fairley was a dominant force in the middle of that Auburn defensive line and was a big reason the Ducks never really got untracked.
Unsung hero: Dyer came up huge for the Tigers on that final drive. Not only did he have the big 37-yard run, but his 16-yard run down to the 1 set up Byrum’s game-winner.
Stat of the game: Auburn wouldn’t allow Oregon to run the ball and held the Ducks to 75 rushing yards on 32 attempts.
What it means: Auburn completed a stunning two-year turnaround. The Tigers suffered through a losing season in 2008, and two years later, they’re the national champions. It was Auburn’s first national championship since 1957. It’s also the fifth straight year that an SEC team has won the national title. That’s five titles by four different SEC schools, too.