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AUBURN'S WINNING KICK
The background: In early November 2010, a pay-for-play scandal involving Auburn star QB Cam Newton surfaced. His eligibility was in question, but ultimately he was cleared and never missed a game. He led Auburn through an undefeated season, including a comeback from a 24-point deficit in Tuscaloosa to beat rival Alabama, and won the Heisman Trophy. Auburn’s offense was one of the best in the nation, but it wasn’t No. 1—that title belonged to Oregon. The Ducks’ spread attack led the nation in total offense and scoring (47.0 points per game).
The game: The high-scoring contest everyone expected never materialized. The Ducks tied the score, 19-19, with a TD and 2-point conversion with 2:33 to play. Attempting to drive into field goal position from its 40, Auburn handed off to freshman Michael Dyer. Seemingly tackled on the play, Dyer actually rolled off an Oregon defender after about a 6-yard gain and went for 37 yards to the Ducks’ 23. Two plays later, Dyer ran 16 more yards before being stopped inside the 1.
The moment: With 2 seconds on the clock, Auburn sent in senior kicker Wes Byrum, the school’s all-time leader in field goals made, for a 19-yard attempt. He nailed it, and Auburn claimed a 22-19 victory.
The aftermath: Controversy surrounding Newton’s eligibility continued until the NCAA ultimately closed its investigation in October 2011 without penalizing Auburn. In just his second year as Tigers coach, Gene Chizik added a national title to his resume, but he had a quick fall—he was fired two years later after a three-win season. Newton, after one of the great single seasons in college football history, became the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers.
— Ken Bradley
NCAA college football news, standings, trade rumors, scores, schedules and more 2012-13 coverage on Sporting News.
Defeat doesn't finish a man - quit does. A man is not finished when he's defeated. He's finished when he quits. - Richard Nixon
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