GLENDALE, Ariz. – Auburn beat Oregon at its own game in Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game.
In the week leading up to the game, talk centered around the pace of Oregon’s offense and whether Auburn’s would be worn down. The opposite happened.
Auburn turned up the pace and ran 85 plays, the most in BCS Championship Game history, and gained 519 yards. Oregon ran 72 plays for 449 yards, but had just 75 yards rushing. The Tigers made 28 first downs. It came as no surprise to Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
“That’s what we do,” Malzahn said. “We play fast, and after we get a first down we pace people. I know everybody talks about Oregon, but pace is a big part of what we do, too.”
MAKING HIGHLIGHTS: Senior middle linebacker Josh Bynes said Auburn’s defensive had a point to prove against the high-scoring Ducks.
“I told the defense before we got on the bus to come here that, throughout the whole week and preparation before the game, they had not showed one defensive highlight. Basically, we went out and played on another level and showed what kind of defense we are today.”
LOOK SAYS IT ALL: As Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof talked about Auburn’s performance in the locker room, New York Times reporter Pete Thamel arrived to ask one question.
“Is there any concern on the coaching staff this will all be taken away?” Thamel said. “You obviously won it on the field, but there’s an investigation going on.”
Roof looked surprised, then glared. He said nothing.
PROUD, BUT NOT SURPRISED: Roof said he expected the defense to play well against Oregon, which averaged more than 52 points per game in going 12-0 in the regular season.
“I was very, very proud of them, but I wasn’t surprised,” Roof said. “The preparation was excellent. They were very, very detailed and very focused how they went about this thing.”
The defensive line dominated Oregon’s smaller offensive line.
“When we challenge our guys, they respond,” Roof said. “That wasn’t a surprise either, but I’m really proud of those guys. They are a special bunch coached by a special guy (Tracy Rocker).”
BYRUM’S BIG KICK: The last field goal of Wes Byrum’s Auburn career was the biggest. It won the national championship.
Byrum’s 19-yarder as time expired broke a 19-19 tie as time expired. And the celebration began.
“I just wanted to go out there and do my part,” Byrum said. “These guys had been fighting all game and putting it on the line. As soon as I made contact, I knew it was good. I just turned around and thanked God for putting me here with all these coaches and players. It’s unbelievable.”
ONE MORE FOR THE SEC: Auburn’s victory gave the Southeastern Conference five consecutive BCS national championships. Florida it in 2006, LSU in 2007, Florida in 2008 and Alabama in 2009. Auburn was 13-0 in 2004 but did not play in the big game. LSU won also won it in 2003.
Auburn joined last season’s Alabama team as the only teams in SEC history to go 14-0.
PERFECT IN BOWLS: Auburn coach Gene Chizik improved to 8-0 in bowl games as a head coach and an assistant coach. He won the national championship as defensive coordinator at Texas in 2005.