Stats & Info: Michael Dyer

The defending national champion Auburn Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final two-plus minutes, rallying for a 42-38 win against the Utah State Aggies at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

With the win, they avoided becoming the first defending national champion to lose its season opener since Michigan in 1998, and the first to lose to an unranked team since Notre Dame in 1978.

The Tigers were down by as many as 14 points in the first half and trailed 21-14 at halftime. They were the first defending national champs to trail at the midpoint in their season opener since 2004.

The comeback was keyed by the Tigers’ game-changing onside kick recovery with just over two minutes remaining in the game, after they had closed the gap to 38-35. Michael Dyer then scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run with 30 seconds left to put Auburn up for good.

Auburn extended its win streak to 16 games with the victory, which is the longest active win streak in the nation and third-longest in school history. Of those 16 wins during the streak, seven have been by five points or fewer.

Auburn has now won 21 of its last 26 season openers, including five straight. It is their 92nd season-opening win, one shy of the most among SEC teams, as Alabama won its 93rd on Saturday afternoon.

Quarterback Barrett Trotter, who was taking over for Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and had attempted nine passes in his collegiate career entering the game, threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

When Trotter threw his third touchdown of the game to make it 38-35 late in the fourth quarter, even though the Tigers still trailed, they were still nearly a lock to win. The last time Auburn lost a game when scoring at least 30 points was 1996.

Utah State outgained Auburn by nearly 100 yards, had 10 more first downs than the Tigers, and held the advantage in the time of possession, but couldn’t put it all together for the upset win.

The Aggies now fall to 0-44 against ranked teams on the road and 1-55 overall. Their only win against a ranked team came on November 2, 1991, when they defeated No. 25 Fresno State, 20-19.

Looking for ideal RB? Check the SEC

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
12:32
PM ET
When Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in 2009, he displayed amazing versatility. He averaged 6.0 yards running between the tackles and 6.3 running outside the tackles. His 31 runs of 15 or more yards led FBS, as did his 17 rushing first downs in the fourth quarter when Alabama was ahead.

He was as close to the total package as any running back, which begs the question: If you could construct the perfect running back combination, whose skills would you incorporate? Here's our take.

Power: short-yardage bruiser = Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide
When asked by ESPN’s Erin Andrews about all of his weight room work, Richardson said, “It helps me a lot. I run folks over or I throw them off me.” The numbers back Richardson’s statement. Last season, he averaged 5.0 yards per carry inside the tackles and 43.0 percent of his yards came after being contacted by a defender. He was rarely stopped short. He gained 5 yards or more on 43.8 percent of his carries, third best in FBS (minimum 100 attempts). His average of 6.3 yards per carry was higher than Cam Newton’s (5.6) and Mark Ingram’s (6.1) during their Heisman Trophy winning seasons.

Speed: home run threat = LaMichael James, Oregon Ducks
LaMichael James finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting last season, thanks in large part to his penchant for breaking long runs. His eight runs of 40 yards or more led the nation. In his career, the average length of his rushing touchdowns has been 18.4 yards, including 10 scoring runs of 20 or more yards and six of 50 or more. James is at his best running on the perimeter. Last season, he averaged 7.2 yards per carry outside the tackles with one of every 10 runs going for 20 yards or more.

Stamina: close out games = Michael Dyer, Auburn Tigers
It is a rarity for running backs to become increasingly effective as the game unfolds, but that’s exactly what Michael Dyer does. His second-half yards per carry average (6.8) last season was significantly better than his mark in the first half (4.8). He rushed for 17 fourth-quarter first downs, the most in FBS of any player with 50 such rushes, and his 7.1-yard average on fourth-quarter carries was the highest in the SEC among players with 25 or more attempts. When Auburn led in the fourth quarter, Dyer ran for at least 5 yards on 52.9 percent of his carries (fourth highest in FBS).

Vision: finding running lanes = Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina Gamecocks
Marcus Lattimore has a knack for findings holes and creases. On 20.1 percent of his runs last season, first contact was not made until at least 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. That meant that on one of every five runs, Lattimore was able to navigate 5 yards past the line without being touched, let alone tackled. During SEC play season, Lattimore had 33 rushes of 10 yards or more.

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