I know you want some venom for the SEC especially after winning their 5th straight national championship in a 22-19 thrilling victory by Auburn over Oregon. Unfortunately I have none for you… well I do and I don’t.
I don’t because it was the designated BCS title game and Auburn and Oregon were fair participants in the game by winning all of the games on their schedule. I also hold no venom because I am happy that Cam Newton came out on top of all of the controversy and criticism that surrounded him and his father Cecil and the pay for play scandal.
Newton through it all stood tall and had great poise and presence in dealing with the media who were like vultures waiting for a new development in the story and for Newton to crack. Instead of cracking he responded with legendary performances like leading that second half comeback in Tuscaloosa to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl to even have a shot in the title game.
Newton’s play on the field was more than worthy of his Heisman trophy win and the BCS national championship. While Oregon’s defense held him in check running the ball Newton won the game with his arm going 20-34 for 265 yards and two scores. While he wasn’t effective on the ground he got key first downs in the fourth quarter, which kept Oregon’s offense off of the field.
Even after his fumble that led to an Oregon score Newton came out and led the Tigers on their game-winning drive (aided nicely by freshman Michael Dyer who had a huge game and won the offensive MVP) without a sweat. Newton was not shaken by any obstacle thrown his way this entire season and deserved to win the title as compensation for his work.
In addition to Newton, how about the great play of Nick Fairley? Fairley was the defensive player of the game as he dominated Oregon’s offensive
line and held the Ducks running attack to under 100 rushing and LaMichael James to only 47. Fairley positioned himself as the possible number one overall pick in the draft with this performance and Carolina would be fools not to pick him.
The main reason Auburn won was not Fairley or Newton however, it was the fact that Oregon left points on the field o
n two possessions that will haunt Chip Kelly all offseason. The first was in the first quarter in the red zone when Darron Thomas was blitzed and threw an errant pass that was picked off by Demond Washington. It came when Oregon’s confusing offense was getting to Auburn and could’ve set the tone for the Ducks in a quarter when the Ducks defense was holding Newton and company in check.
The second came in the third quarter after a brilliant fake punt followed by a 30 yard completion from Thomas to Lavasier Tuinei. The Ducks had four tries inside the two yard line and came away with no points. Their inability to run the ball was evident Kenjon Barmer tried to run between the tackles and was stuffed for no gain as had been the case all night.
Those two possessions all but doomed the Ducks. They proved that they could run with the tigers but coming away empty handed two times in the red zone absolutely murdered them.
(Side note: why didn’t Chip Kelly try running outside the tackles? Oregon proved that it was just as fast as the Tigers yet Kelly never took advantage of his team’s speed and have Barmer or James try to hit the corners and take off. They played into the hands of Auburn’s defense by trying to get between the tackles and run. When that didn’t work they then put the game in Thomas’s hands who put up numbers but looked very shaky at times.)
So there you have it Auburn wins in a great title game that we should all be proud of and that was entertaining for everyone involved. Everyone’s happy end of story and close this puppy up… well…
Now here’s the part where you call me a hater, cry-baby and a punk, fair warning. There was a point in the third quarter where Auburn couldn’t get that extra push and put Oregon away though they were limiting their offense and moving the ball on their defense. At about the five minute mark of the quarter I looked at the guy next to me at the bar and said, “You think TCU is sitting at home going we could beat both of these teams?” He of course argued in the typical SEC, they’re the toughest, blah blah blah .Well that’s what I and many people across the country thought while watching a game that for the most part was dull and provided no secure closure for deciding who the national champ is, and that’s a problem.
Last year when Alabama beat Texas you knew from watching the game that Alabama was the best team in the country. The same thing goes for Florida in their 24-14 win over Oklahoma two years ago. I didn’t get that sense with Auburn. Did they win? Yes. However, I’m not satisfied with the result of them being the national champion because I don’t think they are the best team in the country.
I feel as though TCU, Wisconsin, Stanford, Alabama, Oklahoma and Boise State could all beat Auburn and I say that with a straight face. Auburn
was not that impressive; they had various opportunities to put Oregon away and threw every opportunity away and let Oregon hang around. Good teams put their opponents to sleep and the Tigers were unable to do so.
Furthermore there is an undefeated team left in TCU who after beating a physical team in Wisconsin is sitting home undefeated and in my opinion deserves a fair shot at the national championship (you know where this is going.). If this game and result isn’t a clear indication that we need a playoff then I don’t know what is.
To me if Auburn couldn’t score on Oregon’s small and confusing defense then what would they do when faced with TCU’s faster and more physical defense? How would Nick Fairley fare against Wisconsin’s monstrous offensive line opening holes for all three of their running backs? Could they stop Oklahoma’s more sophisticated aerial assault? Or how about if Andrew Luck had time to throw on that weak secondary, what would happen? I think in every scenario they would get beat.
This was Auburn’s first game against an actual tough non-conference opponent (no Chattanooga and at home to a weak Clemson team doesn’t count) and they weren’t that impressive. I walked away from this game wanting more than what I got and I won’t have a chance to get it.
Unfortunately the BCS has too much money tied into the current system and they think the bowl system is what’s good for the tradition of the game (yes because there is so much tradition in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl and the Little Caesar’s Bowl.) so it won’t happen anytime in the near future. That means that next year if Boise State, Oregon and Alabama all finish undefeated and Alabama beats Oregon 6-3 while Boise whips it up on Texas in the Fiesta Bowl guess what? Yep, more dissatisfaction.
This is the worst system in sports and will continue to be so unless we get a proper way of deciding a national champion that is satisfying to all involved. Once again a school is screwed and the viewer is not happy with the result but it is what it is.
The result is Auburn winning the national championship and they deserve it because they did what was asked of them. Cam Newton and company need to apologize to no one for their accomplishments on the field and should enjoy the fruits of their labor. On the flip side we’re still left wondering why there are still two undefeated teams left in college football and why everyone except the BCS thinks this is a bad thing. Could TCU beat Auburn? I don’t know, too bad we can’t find out and get the satisfaction the game needs and deserves.