NCF Nation: Ducks-Tigers-011011

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
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The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Video: Auburn's Kodi Burns

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
3:58
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Chris Low talks with Auburn’s Kodi Burns following the Tigers win in the BCS title game.

Fairley, Auburn D clamp down on Ducks

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
3:49
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FairleyChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesAuburn's Nick Fairley finished with three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble against Oregon.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Fairly or unfairly, he’s gained a reputation as a dirty player.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly didn’t go down that path late Monday night after watching Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley set up camp in the Ducks’ backfield.

“Nick Fairley proved he was the best defensive lineman in the country. It was a tough matchup for us,” Kelly said following Auburn’s 22-19 win over Oregon in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.

An impossible matchup would be more like it.

Fairley has pretty much been unblockable all season. He was again against the Ducks and then some.

The 6-5, 300-pound Fairley finished with three tackles for loss and a forced fumble, and he was part of the swarm of Tigers that buried Oregon’s Kenjon Barner at the 1 on fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter.

“He’s a great player, just a baller,” safety Mike McNeil said of his Lombardi Award-winning teammate. “He’s special. He’s a big, silly guy.”

Fairley had another one of those plays in the game that’s not going to help his reputation of being fond of extracurricular activity after the whistle. He shoved Oregon’s LaMichael James in the helmet after the play had been blown dead and was hit with a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

But Fairley is such a disrupter up front that those plays are obscured.

What everybody will remember is that Oregon simply couldn’t block Fairley, and the Tigers did what they’ve done defensively all season.

Make clutch plays and clutch stops.

“Man, our defense … we showed America everything we’ve done each and every Saturday out there on the field,” Fairley said. “Like I said, we’ve been doing this for 14 weeks.”

To truly appreciate what Auburn’s defense was able to do, think of it in these terms: The Tigers were able to beat the top scoring team in the country without scoring a single touchdown in the second half.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said defensive coordinator Ted Roof had a phenomenal game plan.

“Our defense was focused for one month,” Chizik said. “They went out and practiced every day to win a national championship, every day. There was not a day that I can sit there and look at, boy, we were just terrible today.”

Senior linebacker Josh Bynes grew weary of hearing about everything this Auburn defense wasn’t.

He told his teammates, in no uncertain words, that they were going to be the best defense in the country on Monday night.

“Offense won’t be able to win every game for us,” Bynes said. “We showed that in the SEC championship when everyone said it would be a 99-89 game, and it was a 56-17 game because defensively we stepped up and played like it was our last down.

“And, today, we did the same thing. I think that’s what this defense and this team was built on, the resiliency of going out there and playing to the final whistle.”

Video: Auburn's Ted Roof

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
3:10
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Chris Low talks with Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof about how the Tigers stopped Oregon in the title game.

Patient Dyer delivers for Tigers

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
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Auburn's Michael DyerMark J. Rebilas/US PRESSWIRE"I was ready for whatever role they wanted to give me tonight," said Auburn freshman Mike Dyer.
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.

[+] EnlargeAuburn's Michael Dyer
Mark J. Rebilas/US PRESSWIREAuburn freshman running back Mike Dyer ran 22 times for 143 yards in the BCS title game.
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.

Video: Auburn's Ryan Pugh

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
2:50
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Mark Schlabach talks with Auburn center Ryan Pugh about Michael Dyer’s dominant running.

Oregon loses battle in trenches

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
2:47
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Oregon's Chip KellyAP Photo/Matt York"The matchup with our offensive line against their defensive line was really the changing point in the football game," Ducks coach Chip Kelly said.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Oregon fought like heck. Its defense held Auburn to 21 points below its season average. The Ducks made things interesting with a late touchdown.

But when you cut to the chase of the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, when you really talk about what matters in football, the reality is this: Oregon's offense got whipped up front by Auburn's defense in a 22-19 loss.

"The matchup with our offensive line against their defensive line was really the changing point in the football game," Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. "I will give Auburn credit. They've got a great front four. Nick Fairley proved he was the best defensive lineman in the country. It was a tough matchup for us."

Fairley, the Lombardi Award winner, had three tackles for a loss and a sack and was a disruptive force inside. But he wasn't the only one. Auburn had 11 tackles for a loss and held the Ducks to just 75 yards rushing. They entered the game averaging 303.8 yards rushing per game. The Ducks averaged 6.1 yards per rush this season; they gained just 2.3 against the Tigers.

With the running game sputtering, that put the pressure on Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas. Sometimes he came through. Other times he didn't. The sophomore did shake off two early interceptions to set career highs with 27 completions on 40 attempts for 363 yards and two touchdowns.

The total yards were fairly close -- Auburn gained 520 yards and the Ducks piled up 455 -- but the Tigers' yards felt more meaningful, in large part because they rushed for 255 yards and converted 9 of 17 third downs, compared to the Ducks' 5-of-15.

[+] EnlargeAuburn's Nick Fairley
Mark J. Rebilas/US PRESSWIRENick Fairley and the Auburn defense combined for 11 tackles for loss against Darron Thomas and the Oregon offense.
Auburn ran 85 plays, a BCS National Championship Game record. Oregon ran 73.

"Their defensive line is really good," said Ducks running back LaMichael James, who was held to a season-low 50 yards rushing. "You know, it was tough to get around those guys. It was a difficult matchup."

A pattern has emerged: When a good defense gets extra time to prepare for the Ducks' offense -- Boise State, Ohio State and now Auburn -- it seems to thrive.

"You could say that," center Jordan Holmes said. "But we're not going to make excuses."

Still, Oregon had a shot. With the Ducks down 19-11 with five minutes left, linebacker Casey Matthews forced a fumble from Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner. Oregon then drove 55 yards for a touchdown -- converting on a fourth-and-5 with a 29-yard pass in the process -- and Jeff Maehl made a spectacular leaping catch for the 2-point conversion to knot the count.

Only problem: There was 2:33 left on the clock. The Tigers took over and got a huge play from Michael Dyer: A 37-yard run deep into Ducks' territory when Dyer appeared down on a tackle from safety Eddie Pleasant, but broke away as defenders fatally relaxed.

The play was reviewed, but referee Bill LeMonnier of the Big Ten explained it like this: "The ruling on the field was there was nothing other than the foot that touched the ground. Replay... could not find any other body part touching the ground. So by rule he was not down."

The Tigers kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired to earn their first championship since 1957.

And the Ducks were left to wonder about plays that were left on the field. Thomas seemed particularly frustrated by a pair of first-quarter interceptions.

"I came out killing us from the jump," he said of the two picks, one of which came on the Auburn 14-yard line.

Thomas felt it was Ducks miscues that hurt them more than what Auburn did: "I don't think Auburn stopped us from winning the game. We stopped ourselves."

But, really, it was about Auburn beating the Ducks. And it felt not unlike the Ducks' loss in the Rose Bowl to Ohio State last year, a game that Kelly also attributed to superior play by the Buckeyes' defensive line.

Obviously, for Oregon to take that final step up in the college football pecking order, it's going to need to get tougher up front on both sides of the ball.

The future was already on the Ducks' minds. They open against LSU in 2011 in Cowboys Stadium. That means they face another tough defense with lots of time to prepare.

"We have next year," James said. "We are going to play plenty more football games. We are going to win plenty more."

Or as Kelly said when he opened the postgame news conference for the losing team: "We'll be back."

Video: Auburn's Josh Byrnes

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
2:40
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Chris Low talks with Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes about the Tigers’ defensive performance.

Video: Auburn's Gus Malzahn

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
2:30
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Mark Schlabach talks with Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn about the game-winning drive.

Video: Auburn's Darvin Adams

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
2:20
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Mark Schlabach talks with Auburn receiver Darvin Adams about the title game win.

Video: Oregon's Kenjon Barner

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
1:57
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Oregon running back Kenjon Barner talks about the loss to Auburn.

Video: Oregon's Darron Thomas

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
1:51
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Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas talks about the loss to Auburn.

Photoblog: Tigers take the title

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
12:40
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Auburn CelebratesJohn Reed/US PresswireAuburn players and coaches celebrate a last-second, 22-19 win in the BCS title game.

Photoblog: Wes Byrum wins it

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
12:36
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Wes ByrumMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireAuburn kicker Wes Byrum celebrates his 19-yard game-winning field goal as time expires.

Instant analysis: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
12:32
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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.

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