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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Some more thoughts on title game

By Ted Miller

At about 2:30 a.m. ET, SEC blogger Chris Low turned to me and said: "Auburn didn't score a touchdown in the second half?"

To which I replied, "Correct." The Tigers had two field goals, one in each quarter in their 22-19 win over Oregon in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.

And he then goes, "Who would have thought that Auburn would score no second-half touchdowns and would win this game?"

No one. If someone had said to me on Sunday, "Auburn will score no second-half TDs. ..." I would have stopped them there and said that was impossible, forget the part about winning.

It was a strange game. Lots of great plays. And sloppy plays. There were stupid penalties. Auburn missed some wide-open pass plays downfield. Both teams got stuffed once on the goal line. The safety the Ducks yielded -- after an illegal motion penalty killed a 9-yard run -- loomed large.

Consider this: 968 total yards. And it was a defensive struggle.

The talk after the game -- including my story -- was Auburn's defense dominating the line of scrimmage. But the Ducks gained 449 yards and only gave up two sacks on 41 pass attempts. Auburn gave up two sacks on 35 passes.

Oregon had 26 plays that gained zero or negative yards. Auburn had 28. (But keep in mind the Tigers ran 85 plays -- a BCS title-game record -- compared to 73 for the Ducks, who averaged 79 plays per game this year).

"Dominating" isn't the right word for what happened at the line of scrimmage. But "winning" clearly is.

Here are two key numbers:
Finally, you will hear plenty of SEC trash talk versus the Pac-10. My take? Well, the SEC is clearly atop college football.

The SEC just won its fifth consecutive BCS national title. That is amazing. Even more so: Five different SEC teams have won championships. The best SEC team just beat the best Pac-10 team for the title (I know, Stanford fans, but we're not doing hypotheticals now).

The pregame talk about Auburn being bigger and more physical on both lines proved true. The Tigers won both lines. End of story.

And yet, Pac-10 fans, know there are plenty of sharp SEC fans who walked away from this game with a healthy respect for the Pac-10. The previous four foes that lost to the SEC in the title game lost by double digits, by an average of 16.8 points, in fact. The Ducks lost when the Tigers kicked a field goal on the last play of the game.

Further, Oregon's defense held the Tigers to 21 points below their season average and their second-lowest total of the season. So while an SEC defense asserted itself, a Pac-10 defense also showed some mettle.

Some more thoughts: