Home > Uncategorized > Running Blog Of The 2011 BCS National Championship Game: (1) Auburn vs. (2) Oregon

Running Blog Of The 2011 BCS National Championship Game: (1) Auburn vs. (2) Oregon

In terms of pro potential, this game isn’t Texas-USC from 2006. But I think this is the most eagerly awaited college football championship game since that Pasadena classic. Sure, both teams are perfect and both offenses make you freeze whatever you’re doing and watch.

But I think the plot lines of this game are what’s really intriguing:

Can Oregon just slow Cam Newton?

How will the Ducks’ offense react against the fastest defense it’s faced all year?

In a similar vein, will the Ducks be able to play their game at their pace?

How will Oregon deal with the much bigger Auburn offensive line?

The current over/under is 74; will that be cleared? Will that be cleared with ease??

Hype is always dangerous in these games because there tends to be a feeling that if it can’t live up to the lofty pregame expectation (i.e. a back-and-forth shootout where both teams score in the high 40s, and it comes down to the last possession), the game is a disappointment.

You can’t look at it this way. Just know that these are clearly the two best teams in the nation and as such, this should be a dandy. Follow along with this running blog throughout the night as the country watches this unfold.

5:21 p.m. A moment of silence was just taken in honor of those lost during the shooting in Tucson on Saturday. The story of the 9-year-old girl who was killed, Christina-Taylor Green, just amazes me. She was extremely interested in politics, even at her young age, and went to meet Rep. Giffords to understand more about how politics work. Born on Sept. 11, 2001, she died as a result of what I would consider domestic terrorism. And if you are a fan of baseball, she was the granddaughter of former MLB player and manager Dallas Green. Just tragic.

5:25 p.m. OK, as far as a prediction goes, Vegas has Auburn as a one-point favorite, a true pick’em. And I pick Auburn. There is no denying Cam Newton, and I think Auburn’s defense is fast enough to at least trouble the Ducks’ fast attack.

AUBURN WINS, 36-30. No, that doesn’t cover the current over/under.

5:26 p.m. WAR (bald) EAGLE! National anthem.

5:32 p.m. Oregon hits the field first followed by Chizik, Newton and the Tigers. Five minutes or so away.

5:35 p.m. Before this game, I will point out one thing: Going into last season, I thought Alabama was the most overrated team in the nation. We know how that turned out. Coming into this year, I thought it was Oregon. Will history repeat itself, thanks to my stupidity? However, the SEC has won their past seven BCS championship games, including four in a row.

5:37 p.m. Oregon wins the toss — drawing an “Oooo” from Lee Corso, who picked the Ducks to win — and will take the ball.

Here we gooooooooooooooooooooooo …

5:38 p.m. Kickoff, after 37 or so days, right on schedule; the Ducks field it at the goal line. The Ducks’ returner, Josh Huff, slipped when he caught the ball and then slipped again when he reached the 17-yard line.

I guess footing will be something to watch tonight. This turf tonight comes from Oregon, ironically enough.

5:40 p.m. Kind of a buzzkill start to the game as an Auburn player is injured on the kickoff, forcing ESPN to jump to commercial.

5:43 p.m. Another non-contact slip caused that injury. Jeez, three slips on the first play. It looked like his right knee buckled in an awful way.

5:44 p.m. A short pass, a late lateral pitch and then an inside toss leads to a three-and-out for the Ducks. That bad offensive set is compounded by a very short punt that stops at Auburn’s 37. It’s Newton’s time.

5:46 p.m. The first two plays go to RB Onterio McCalebb; one for 15 yards, and one for zero.

5:46 p.m. Netwon first attempt  … IS A FUMBLE!! He gets hit as he’s about to launch the ball, but the Tigers hop back on the ball to avert disaster.

5:48 p.m. A third-down drop from wide receiver Darvin Adams — I think he jumped for the pass a bit too early — leads to a punt. Oregon will start its second drive at the 19.

I’m sure people are already saying that the long layoff is why neither team scored on its first drive. I’ll wait a few more minutes before making such a quick judgment.

5:50 p.m. By the way, we are just a couple of minutes in and I’m realizing how fun it is to write a running blog with these teams on the field, trying to keep up with the action.

5:51 p.m. A middle screen to LaMichael James works out and he picks up 21 on second and 112.

5:54 p.m. Darron Thomas is not off to a great start, kids. He can’t find anywhere to run and his fifth pass of the game is intercepted. It was intended for Kenjon Barner and while it was high, the pass should have been caught. Alas, it’s only tipped into the hands of Auburn’s Demond Washington at the Oregon 47. More great field position for Newton and Co. Not the best idea if you’re a Ducks fan.

5:57 p.m. Newton’s first run of the game goes for one as he is brought down by Casey Matthews and his fantastic hair.

5:57 p.m. OK, I think you can now say that nerves are playing their part. Newton throws an interception, right to Oregon’s Cliff Harris, who takes it back to Oregon’s 47, right where Thomas was picked.

5:59 p.m. LaMichael James wiggles through on third and 5 when it looked like he had nowhere to go. He gained the five for Oregon’s second first down.

6:00 p.m. James has now picked up all three of Oregon’s first downs as Thomas rolls right and then dumps it to the Heisman finalist. The Ducks are driving, now inside Auburn’s 35.

6:01 p.m. Right now, this short passing game is doing wonders for Oregon. Another middle screen — this one to Barner — puts Oregon in the red zone.

6:02 p.m. AND THEN ANOTHER INTERCEPTION!!! Nick Fairley gets pressure on Thomas, forcing him to throw it too early and behind Huff. Picked by Zac Etheridge at the 14. I didn’t know both of these QBs were modeling their game after Carson Palmer.

6:05 p.m. After a first down, Newton is stuffed on a run on second down and then absolutely mauled for a sack on third down. PUNT! Oregon will start its next drive at the 28.

So, 2:14 left in the first quarter, 0-0.

“HEY, MAN, I THOUGHT YOU SAID THIS GAME WAS GOING TO BE HIGH-SCORING?!” If anyone around you is already wondering where the offense is and is saying that these teams are disappointing, you have the right to smack them in the back of the head.

6:09 p.m. James carries it twice more for a first down. Then Thomas Lavasier Tuinei finds on the Oregon sideline for a catch-and-run of 19 yards.

6:11 p.m. James, Barner, Thomas are rolling right now. This offense is finding its groove and playing at its pace. They just forced a penalty on the Tigers for 12 men on the field. Oregon, first and 10 at the Tigers’ 11.

6:13 p.m. The first quarter ends with a 0-0 score. Who won that prop bet, hmmmm?

But the Ducks are knocking on the door. The first play of the second quarter will be a third and 2 at the Auburn 3.

I’ll take a breath along with the Tigers, who already look worn because of this pace.

6:16 p.m. Thomas takes the ball on the zone read and decides to keep it instead of handing it off to James. He pays for his mistake in the form of Fairley landing on top of him for a big sack. Comfy.

Oregon settles for a 26-yard field goal.


6:20 p.m. Another rough kickoff return for Auburn. From the 1 to just the 13. First and 10.

6:21 p.m. Michael Dyer and Terrell Zachary have picked up all the yards for Auburn on this drive through four plays, 36 yards to be exact.

6:24 p.m. But Cam Newton continues to struggle. At the Oregon 46, he slips while running and can only flip it to McCalebb for a short gain, albeit a first-down gain. Then he lets one fly deep down the field and it’s Harris again who looks to have picked it off.

But the officials ruled it incomplete and upon further review, he didn’t have total possession. Second and 10 at the Oregon 35.

6:28 p.m. Newton finds a wide open Kodi Burns over the middle of the field; he dodges a tackle and streaks to the end zone! WE HAVE A TOUCHDOWNS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!! I can’t give Newton too much credit; A kangaroo with a good arm could have completed that throw. There was no one within five yards of Burns.


6:30 p.m. Well, that didn’t work. A botched end around leaves the Ducks at their own 7 to start this trip.


6:34 p.m. This game is starting to develop as we expected. Just had to be patient for the first 15.

6:35 p.m. One play later, the Ducks set up their best play of the game. Thomas rolls right and then throws back to his left for James who could have twirled into the end zone if he would have liked. I’m sure the entire nation would have liked to see that.

Touchdown, Oregon! 10-7 ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR 11-7!!! The Ducks run the option play to the right, the KICKER, ROB BEARD, gets the pitch and dives into the end zone for a unique two-pointer.

11-7, Oregon. 10:58 LEFT IN THE FIRST HALF.

6:40 p.m. Newton throws a risk pass across his body, but it’s good enough to pick up a first down on third down as Auburn has already traveled past midfield. Both offenses are absolutely buckled in.

6:42 p.m. Another third-down conversion for Auburn. This one was much more safe as Newton completed it to Zachary down to the Oregon 31.

6:43 p.m. Three-peat! Third down. Newton. First down. This time, he runs for it and drags Matthews the needed two yards.

6:44 p.m. Another slip as Dyer goes down behind the line of scrimmage on second and 7. That’s at least the fifth slip I’ve seen tonight.

6:45 p.m. On third down, Newton flares it out to a running back and a first down would have been picked up if he could have caught the ball. An offsides penalty helps keep the drive alive, however.

6:47 p.m. Third down again. Newton running through the middle again. First down again. First and goal at the 8.

6:48 p.m. Hey, guess what? Third and goal for the Tigers! From the 3 …

6:48 p.m. This time, four Ducks are there to stuff Newton running into the line. But the Tigers will go for it on fourth and goal from the 2.

6:50 p.m. We now know this: Cam Newton can throw a really good sinker. Unfortunately, this isn’t baseball. Newton fakes the run on fourth down, steps back and has a man open in the end zone. But Newton pushes the ball out and it falls rapidly. The throw is too low for Eric Smith, incomplete!

Oregon takes over at its own 2 with 3:41 left in the half.

6:53 p.m. I guess the fans are getting tired of Cam Newton love. That is the only reasonable explanation for why LaMichael James won the AT&T Player of the Year Award.

6:54 p.m.

A penalty keeps the Ducs in the shadow of their own end zone. So on first and 10 from the 2, James is stopped in the end zone for a safety.


6:59 p.m. Pardon my absence, I’ve just been mezmorized by the Tigers’ offense. Off of the safety, the Tigers march 66 yards right down the field in six plays. Newton goes 3-for-3 on the drive, finished off with a 30-yard TD pass to Emory Blake.


7:01 p.m. Auburn gives Oregon a free 15 yards off of the kickoff after a personal foul on Eric Smith leaves a Duck bloodied. That’s smart. Oregon starts at its own 38.

7:04 p.m. On third and 8 from Auburn’s 39, a pass from Thomas is shut down right after Maehl catches it for a loss of two.

7:06 p.m. Oregon punts and downs the ball inside the 5-yard line. Oregon still has three timeouts, the first of which it uses after a short run by Dyer. Hey, at least try to force a punt.

7:07 p.m. An offsides penalty takes away that strategy.

7:11 p.m. But the Tigers don’t want to take no stinkin’ knee! A 20-yard run by McCalebb and a 22-yard pass from Newton gets them to thinking field goal with about 10 seconds left.

7:12 p.m. Third and 10 with 3 seconds left, Newton goes for the Hail Mary from Oregon’s 46. But no South Carolina repeat is had as it falls incomplete.


7:15 p.m. Remember that slow first quarter? Yeah, me neither. After that frantic 15 minutes in the second quarter, we are still on pace for about 1,000 combined yards of total offense.

7:17 p.m. Oregon has to feel pretty good about how it’s limited Newton rushing. He has no big runs today and is still in negative territory for total rushing yardage. Dyer and McCalebb are picking up the slack.

7:17 p.m. Newton is beating Oregon’s solid secondary through the air with the help of some blown coverage. He’s 16-for-22 passing, 186 yards, two TDs and an interception. However, realize that nine of Auburn’s points came off the safety and the ensuing possession.

7:19 p.m. Despite two interceptions, Thomas has been efficient with the ball (15-of-19 for 194 yards and a score). I’m surprised James has just 18 yards on five carries. I would think that running game will be more of a focus for Oregon in the second half.

7:22 p.m. And now … a quick dinner. Be back in a few minutes.

7:47 p.m. I was gone for a little longer than I expected because my computer froze. Good times.

I will say I was very impressed with that throw from Newton to Lutzenkirchen that set up the field goal.


7:49 p.m. The Ducks tried to do another end around on another kickoff and it still didn’t do much. May want to put that gimmick away.

7:49 p.m. Right after Kirk Herbstreit says the Ducks are having a tough time running against Auburn’s front, James runs up the middle for 9.

7:50 p.m. Darron Thomas records his best run of the night one play later, but it is called back due to the most obvious holding call you will ever see. Seriously, it looked like the lineman glued his hands to the defender and just rode him for about 10 yards laterally. Second and 16 at the Auburn 43.

7:52 p.m. Short pass to Maehl leaves Oregon at fourth and 14. Even with Chip Kelly and even at the Auburn 41, PUNT! Touchback.

7:54 p.m. With how Auburn’s defense is settling in, this may be a make-or-break possession for Oregon’s defense. Even with their high-octane offense, I don’t think they can afford to fall behind by 15 or 16 in the second half, not with how that front four is playing.

7:58 p.m. OH MAN! On third and 7, Newton has at least five seconds to find his man and he certainly sees him: Adams behind the defense with nothing but green grass and the end zone in front of him. But a sure-fire TD will go down as just an incomplete pass as Cam overthrows Adams by a yard or two. Could have been a backbreaker for the Ducks.

8:00 p.m. Oregon has got to get something done here. The Ducks will start at their own 27 with 6:25 left in the third.

8:02 p.m. Fourteen yards for James on first down, a play that I think would have gone for much less if No. 15 Neiko Thorpe didn’t slip.

8:03 p.m. Good to see how Jim Rome has become a part of Oregon’s ESPN-associated play-calling. Guess I’ll watch his show tomorrow.

8:04 p.m. Fourth and 7, OF COURSE CHIP KELLY GOES FOR A FAKE PUNT AND IT WORKS! The punter rolls left and floats it Marvin Johnson for 11 yards! A gambler, Kelly is.

8:04 p.m. Next play after the fake, Thomas seems to overthrow Tuinei, but he somehow brings (juggles) it in and just gets tripped up at the 3. First and goal!

8:06 p.m. Auburn’s speed is too great for Oregon on the first two downs, but on third and goal for the 3, James takes the handoff to just inside the 1. Again, if not for an ankle tackle, he would have gone in easily.

8:07 p.m. Fourth and goal from two feet away: Barner, not James, gets the carry and is stopped well short of the goal line.

I have no problem with Kelly going for it there (it’s not like he considered any other alternative), but why Barner there? He’s bigger than James, but he hasn’t been nearly as successful running the ball on this drive or in this game. If Kelly’s going to lose, I figure he would lose with his All-American toting the rock.

So it’s still 19-11, Tigers. 2:26 left in the third.

8:10 p.m. Newton rushes out to the 4 on first down to give the Tigers a bit of breathing room.

8:11 p.m. Herbstreit said it before I could type it: You can sense that Auburn’s offensive line is really starting to take control. Newton has had a lot of time to throw and the running game is chugging away. If not for a holding penalty, Newton would have run for another first down on the last play.

8:12 p.m. No worries as Newton, with a tremendous pocket around him, scrambles right and picks up 14 for the first down on the next play anyway. A short run by Dyer takes us to the end of the third quarter.


8:17 p.m. Third down and it’s NOT Newton, but rather Dyer running up the middle for a first down. TICK TICK TICK TICK!

8:20 p.m. An Auburn timeout brings us to a commercial, which brings us to a Green Hornet trailer, which gives me this question: Why would Christoph Waltz, an Oscar-winning actor who was so brilliant in Inglourious Basterds want to associate himself with that movie? He’s either desperate for money or lost a bet.

8:23 p.m. Oregon’s able to hold here, but another Auburn drop on third down is the main reason why the Ducks have the ball back with 13:32 left to play. PUNT! Ducks start at their own 16. I wonder what their average field position for this game. Take out the interception and I would guess it’s pretty bad.

8:26 p.m. Nothing is going right for Oregon on offense. It has stagnated and now the Ducks are faced with a second at 18 at their own 8.

And Fairley steps up for a vicious (nearly illegal) stop of no gain.

8:28 p.m. Well, shut my mouth. Thomas, off his back foot, throws and finds David Paulson open for a gain of 33! He follows that up with an 11-yard pass to D.J. Davis.

8:29 p.m. Jeff Maehl just got away with offensive pass interference.

8:30 p.m. On third down, miscommunication between QB and WR as Thomas lofts it deep down the field but Maehl cuts off his route. It would have been incomplete most likely anyway as Maehl was covered well. PUNT! Auburn will start at its own 21. 11:00 left.

8:35 p.m. I just yawned. I thought that would be impossible three hours ago.

Hopefully you took the under.

8:36 p.m. On a designed run on third and 12, Newton runs off his right tackle and records the best scamper of his night. Eighteen yards.

8:38 p.m. Something is wrong with Cam Newton. He was wincing before a commercial break not too long ago. Then he took a shot to the back on his 18-yard run. On a second-down play, he runs right and … falls down. And takes a while to get up. He is in some considerable pain.

8:39 p.m. But that doesn’t stop him from converting another huge third down. The Tigers are in Duck territory again.

8:40 p.m. Third and 12, 6:49 left. Cam has been getting it done in these situations all night. The Ducks have to get a stop now!

8:41 p.m. Newton gets the ball to his receiver … out of bounds. PUNT! And it’s another good one. Oregon will start at its own13. With just 6:34 to play, it’s nearing panic time for (0).

8:44 p.m. Darron Thomas, a green and beautiful state turns its eyes to you.

8:44 p.m. First down, incomplete as Thomas just misses a receiver, although the play would have gone for a minimal game if completed.

8:45 p.m. Second down, incomplete as the pass is batted down. You think Auburn knows what’s coming??

8:45 p.m. Third down, Thomas actually completes a tough throw to Maehl, over his inside shoulder along the sidelines. Maehl turns up field and gets the first down.

8:47 p.m. Third and 3, and it had no chance. Oregon goes with the zone read with Thomas and James. James gets the ball, but whoever carried it would have lost yardage on the play anyway. PUNT!

8:48 p.m. Short kick as Auburn starts at its 29 with 5:05 left.

8:48 p.m. Newton runs on first down, gains a yard and another scene of him wincing. Oregon takes its first timeout.


A dead-ball personal foul penalty is called on No. 45 Terrell Turner, but I didn’t see anything. Those are 15 valuable yards.

8:52 p.m. After a first down and then a near interception by Auburn, Thomas just misses an open Tuinei to his left. He just missed it. Would have been an easy first down.

8:53 p.m. Fourth and 5, Thomas deals with the pressure and finds Davis open over the middle for a big gain down to the Auburn 11!!! Assist goes to the official who picked off an Auburn defender going for the tackle.

8:54 p.m. Another short pass goes down to the 4 and then encroachment on Fairley brings Oregon to two yards from the end zone.

8:55 p.m. Second and 1, James to the right for NOTHING.

8:55 p.m. Third and1 … Oregon taking its sweet time … and has to burn a timeout! How did that happen??? They had plenty of time to set up a play. The Ducks have just one TO left with 2:36 to play.

8:57 p.m. Third and 1, inside pitch to James works as he sneaks into the end zone!!! TOUCHDOWN, DUCKS!!


8:58 p.m. AND THEY GOT IT! Thomas scrambles for his life to the right, then absolutely throws up a duck of a pass (see what I did there?) back to his left to Maehl, who skies for the catch! TIE GAME!!


9:00 p.m. Auburn starts at its own 25. 2:27 left. Cam Newton, your response?

9:01 p.m. WR screen to Emory Blake to the right. He breaks a couple of tackles for 15 yards.

9:02 p.m. As crazy as the last few minutes have been, nothing will top this if it stands:

Michael Dyer runs right for a decent gain and is seemingly dragged down by a Duck. He gets up … AND STARTS RUNNING AGAIN! The Ducks have no idea what’s going on, but Dyer keeps going and no whistle has been blown. He goes all the way down to the Ducks’ 23 yard-line for 37 yards, the last 30 of which no one expected!! He apparently fell on top of a Duck and the only part of his body that was on the ground was the palm of his hand. The officials review the play and it stands. There will be a name for that play coming up in the days to come.

9:04 p.m. In field-goal range, it is now a clock game for Auburn.


The play is under review. His knee may have been down at the 1.

9:08 p.m. After review, he was down at the half-yard line.

9:09 p.m. The Tigers will kick it on first down. Musberger and Herbstreit considered that the Tigers run it with Newton here. They have two timeouts and if he gets stopped short, they will have enough time to stop the clock and still attempt the three.

9:09 Timeout, Oregon.

9:10 p.m. Newton does try to sneak it in and gets stopped. Auburn lets the clock run as its fan base hilariously screams in agony for the timeout, as if Chizik has no idea what the clock says. Calm down, kids.

Two seconds left. Wes Byrum for the win …

9:12 p.m. He nailed it.


Congrats to Auburn, its fans, Cam Newton and especially Gene Chizik. That school’s fans were preparing to hang him in effigy before he even coached his first game two years ago. War Eagle didn’t wan’t an Iowa State coach. They wanted a winner and those fans were sure that Chizik couldn’t bring them one.

Gene Chizik: national champion

Now what?

I don’t think it was the game that many expected. 41 points by both teams combined? Nope, not many expected that. But it was relatively entertaining and had a great finish. It wasn’t close to Texas-USC, but it was the best BCS title game since. So there’s that.

Going back to the storylines I brought up at the top of the post:

Can Oregon just slow Cam Newton?

On the ground, pretty much. They held him out of the end zone and held him to just 65 yards. But Michael Dyer — 143 yards — picked up the slack especially. So, Newton’s lack of ground game was pretty much neutralized by his teammates.

How will the Ducks’ offense react against the fastest defense it’s faced all year?

Oregon looked good early on, but as we went into the second half, it was clear that the Ducks couldn’t run their zone read very well against Nick Fairley and the Tigers’ defense. LaMichael James really had a tough night.

In a similar vein, will the Ducks be able to play their game at their pace?

Not in that second half. They were completely slowed down by Auburn and if not for a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter, Oregon and its fearsome offense probably would have been held to just 11 points.

How will Oregon deal with the much bigger Auburn offensive line?

Overall, it wasn’t great. Auburn ran 85 plays (!!!) and simply wore Oregon down, as many expected. That defense held its own in the first 30, but Cam Newton was barely harassed and Michael Dyer found lots of running room in the final 30.

The current over/under is 74; will that be cleared? Will that be cleared with ease??

Let me see … carry the one and … A LOT OF PEOPLE LOST A LOT OF MONEY!

It wasn’t without some blemishes, but that was a solid end to the 2010 college football season. Once again, congratulations to Auburn. And congratulations to you if you’ve put up with this blog for the last four and a half hours. I appreciate it. Now go rest your eyes. Staring at this is not healthy.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: