SEC: Ducks-Tigers-011011

Video: Auburn's Kodi Burns

January, 11, 2011

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
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

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
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

Mark Schlabach talks with Auburn center Ryan Pugh about Michael Dyer’s dominant running.

Video: Auburn's Josh Byrnes

January, 11, 2011

Chris Low talks with Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes about the Tigers’ defensive performance.

Video: Auburn's Gus Malzahn

January, 11, 2011

Mark Schlabach talks with Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn about the game-winning drive.

Video: Auburn's Darvin Adams

January, 11, 2011

Mark Schlabach talks with Auburn receiver Darvin Adams about the title game win.

Instant analysis: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

January, 11, 2011
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.

Auburn making Oregon one-dimensional

January, 10, 2011
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Auburn's defense has been able to make Oregon one-dimensional.

The Ducks are averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry and are starting to throw the football on every down.

That's playing right into Auburn's hands.

Tigers make clutch stand

January, 10, 2011
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The goal-line stand was one thing.

Auburn's Nick Fairley and Mike McNeil combined to stop Oregon's Kenjon Barner short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

But it was freshman Demetruce McNeal who might have saved the Tigers. He tripped up Lavasier Tuinei on the tail end of a 43-yard pass that looked like it was going for a touchdown.

Instead, the Ducks were kept off the scoreboard completely.

There's still a quarter to play, but Auburn's defense has done some of its best work of the season tonight.

Now, it comes down to the fourth quarter, and both teams have owned these final 15 minutes this season.

Maybe Fairley deserves his reputation

January, 10, 2011
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There's no debating that Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is a great player.

When he does stupid things like he did midway through the third quarter -- shoving Oregon running back LaMichael James in the helmet after the play was dead and James lying on the ground -- there's also no debating that Fairley is a dirty player.

He did it right in front of the officials, too, and cost his team 15 yards. He's got to be smarter than that.

It's also not the first time he's done something like that this season, which is precisely the reason he has the reputation of being a dirty player.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik bristled at the suggestion earlier this week that Fairley was a dirty player.

But it's hard to defend him when he's taking pokes at guys lying on the ground and spearing quarterbacks in the back with his helmet.

At the half: Auburn 16, Oregon 11

January, 10, 2011
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After a scoreless first quarter, Auburn settled into more of a rhythm offensively and took a 16-11 lead over Oregon into halftime Monday in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.

Here's a quick halftime analysis:

Turning point: After Auburn was turned away on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line when Cam Newton's pass to a wide-open Eric Smith in the end zone was short, the Tigers' defense responded. Mike Blanc exploded through the line and tackled Oregon's LaMichael James in the end zone for a safety.

Player of the half: Newton has made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, but he also has 186 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Stat of the half: In the second quarter, Auburn ran 36 plays for 258 yards. Oregon ran 11 plays for 107 yards, 81 of those coming on the long pass play to Jeff Maehl.

What Auburn needs to do: The Tigers got away with a couple of mistakes in the first half. The way Oregon wins this game is with the help of Auburn turnovers. The Tigers also get the ball to start the second half. They need a sustained touchdown drive.

More nerves for Newton

January, 10, 2011
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don't blame the play-call, and don't blame Auburn coach Gene Chizik's decision to go for it on fourth down.

Blame Cam Newton for throwing a bad ball.

Eric Smith was wide open, and Newton simply short-armed the throw.

This is a side of Newton we're not used to seeing this season, almost a jittery side. He looked like he was getting it going on the drive down to the Oregon 1, running the ball effectively and finding some rhythm.

But he blew an easy touchdown.

Smith still had a chance to catch the ball, but appeared to slip. There have been several players having trouble keeping their footing on what's a slick track at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Burns a great story for Tigers

January, 10, 2011
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kodi Burns has exemplified the selflessness on Auburn's team.

One of the Tigers' senior leaders, Burns caught his first touchdown pass of the season in the second quarter against Oregon, a 35-yarder putting Auburn ahead 7-3.

Burns is one of the most popular players on Auburn's team. A former starting quarterback, he moved to receiver for the good of the team after the Auburn coaches made the decision to go with Chris Todd as the starting quarterback last year.

He never grumbled. He didn't cause problems in the locker room, and he didn't question the coaches.

Instead, he stood up in front of the team and asked the players to get behind Todd and support him.

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn calls Burns one of his favorite players he's ever been around.