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Dublin: 3°C Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Auburn wins the BCS Championship Game

Kicker Wes Byrum booted a 19-yard field goal with no time remaining to give Auburn a 22-19 victory.

Image: Chris Carlson/AP/Press Association Images

AFTER YESTERDAY’S COLUMN introducing you to college football, we hope you sacrificed some sleep to catch a glimpse of last night’s BCS Championship game, as Auburn beat Oregon.

In what was billed as an offensive shoot-out with two of the highest-scoring teams in all of college football going head-to-head, it was the defences which stood up to limit the final to a 41-point game.

In front of a packed-out University of Phoenix Stadium, the Auburn Tigers defence pulled out all the stops while their offence put the points on the board against the Oregon Ducks to pick up a 22-19 win, which was secured by a Wes Byrom field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter.

It was a pointless first 15  minutes as each quarterback took time to shake off the rustiness that had set in from the four-week break since their last game, throwing three interceptions between them.

Things started to come into place for the Ducks by the end of the first quarter, and the #2 ranked team in the country completed a drive, which started on their own 29-yard line, with a field goal at the beginning of the second. Auburn hit back immediately however, Kodi Burns taking in a 35-yard touchdown to put the Tigers in front for the first time.

An open second quarter gave expectation to a high scoring match-up, as the Ducks drove down for their first touchdown of the evening – star running back LaMichael James scoring with an 8-yard pass from Darron Thomas.

With three minutes to go in the half, the terrific punting unit of the Tigers pinned the Ducks deep in their own territory, and running back James was tackled in his own endzone for a safety. Emory Blake topped off the opening half with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Heismann Trophy winner Cam Newton as the sides went in 16-11.

The second half was where the defences stepped up, limiting the final thirty minutes to just two field goals and a touchdown from Oregon. Nick Fairley, the star defensive linebacker of the Tigers, was immense yet again for the #1 team in college football – demonstrating his worth on the grandest stage in college football – and is now almost certain to be considered a top three NFL Draft pick this April.

Defence

The Oregon defence put up some big stops of their own, none bigger than Casey Matthew’s fumble on Cam Newton which led to a rushing touchdown from LaMichael James. The game was set for a massive finish, as quarterback Thomas found Jeff Maehl at the back of the endzone for the two point conversion to tie the game at 19-19 with two and a half minutes on the clock.

Auburn then made an unforgettable drive for the victory. Running back Michael Dyer – the offensive player of the game – appeared to have been brought down on the half way line, but the eagle-eye referees let play go as Dyer hopped up for another twenty yards.

On review, Dyer had been on top of the defender and was not grounded, and the play stood. This set up another run from Dyer which took Auburn to just half a yard shy of the endzone.

Wes Byrom stepped up to kick the field goal, slotting it over with ice-cool precision as the clock ran out, giving Auburn their first triumph in the championship game.

MVP: Nick Fairely – The monstrous defensive linebacker ate up Darron Thomas all night, made rushing stops and shut down any passing attempts from Oregon as the NFL Draft candidate displayed a perfect all-round defensive performance.

And for Oregon: Jeff Maehl – The Ducks wide receiver made two major plays for Oregon to keep them in the game, first an 81-yard pass to set up their first touchdown in the second quarter, followed by a crucial two point conversion reception to tie the game at 19-all.

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