SEC: 2011 BCS title game preview

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Auburn looks to win its first national championship since 1957 and extend the SEC’s streak of national championships to five in a row Monday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Here’s a quick preview of the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game:

Who to watch: Who else? Cam Newton’s brilliance on the field and all the controversy surrounding him off the field captivated college football this season. The Auburn junior quarterback won the Heisman Trophy by putting up outrageous numbers this season that we might never see again. He accounted for 49 touchdowns (28 passing, 20 rushing and one receiving), and played some of his best football during the month of November when news broke of his father’s attempted pay-for-play scheme with Mississippi State boosters. When Newton wasn’t beating teams with his legs, he was throwing pinpoint passes to beat them. He heads into Monday night’s game with 2,589 passing yards and 1,409 rushing yards. With 91 rushing yards against Oregon, Newton would become the only player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in the same season.

What to watch: Nobody would characterize Auburn’s defense as great this season, but the Tigers were great at making plays when they had to. And they absolutely owned the fourth quarter, much like Oregon did this season. Whether it was creating turnovers or coming up with key stops, Auburn time and time again played championship defense after the half. But will that be enough against an Oregon team that scores points in bunches and led the country this season with 27 offensive touchdowns of 25 yards or longer? The Tigers have been rock-solid defensively in their past six quarters of football, which encompasses the second half of the Alabama game and the entire SEC championship game against South Carolina. The Tigers say they’re prepared for Oregon’s blistering offensive pace. We’ll find out for sure later Monday night.

Why to watch: We’re still waiting for another classic in the BCS National Championship Game that rises to the level of what Texas and USC gave us in 2005. These teams have the offensive firepower to score at will, which means you might want to loosen up the neck before sitting down to watch. The mere pace that this game will be played at makes it compelling enough. Throw in marquee talents like LaMichael James, Nick Fairley, Cliff Harris and Newton, and we all could be in for a treat. In a lot of ways, Oregon is playing for all of college football. Auburn can make it five consecutive national championships for the SEC (by four different teams) with a win. It’s safe to say that everybody outside of the SEC would love nothing more than to see that streak end.

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SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/27
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12