Tag:BCS Championship Update
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:33 am

BCS Championship Bowl Grade: Oregon

Posted by Chip Patterson


We knew that the Oregon offensive line would be undersized against Auburn's front four, but we did not realize how badly they would lose the battle in the trenches on offense. Oregon played against some teams with big defensive lineman, but none were as skilled and powerful as Nick Fairley and the rest of the Auburn defensive line. Auburn was able to get penetration into Oregon's backfield all night long, and it crushed Darron Thomas' ability to read the field and let his options develop. Thomas did pull over several impressive plays in tough situations, including his 4th down completion to D.J. Davis to keep the game-tying drive alive.

But in the end, Oregon is a team that averages more yards rushing than anyone else in the nation. On Monday night, they were held to just 75 team rushing yards. Auburn forced the Ducks to throw the ball, and it made them uncomfortable to stray from their usual gameplan. It is impressive that Thomas was able to adjust to keep the Ducks in, but those two trips inside the ten yard line will leave a lot of "What if's" for the Oregon offense. GRADE: D+


The Oregon defense played almost as well as they could have in order to win the game. If their primary task was to stop Cam Newton, they did a pretty good job by only holding him to 64 yards rushing on 22 carries. They just didn't have much help from their offense, who continued to give the ball right back to Auburn after very little rest for the Ducks. Six of Oregon's eight second half drives were done in less than 2:30, giving the undersized defense little time to rest before heading back out to face true freshman Michael Dyer. The defense held strong and even was able to create the turnover they needed in order to tie the game, but the Ducks struggled to bring down Dyer as he gobbled up all 143 yards on his way to Offensive MVP. It is hard to ask for more from a defensive unit, but it was still not enough to secure the win for Oregon. GRADE: C


Credit Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti for preparing this defense for Cam Newton's many weapons. Unfortunately, they were not ready for Auburn's many weapons. Auburn's "bad" defense was grossly underrated, and Oregon was not able to make any in-game adjustments to counter the penetration that Nick Fairley & Co. were getting into the Oregon backfield. Without being able to establish their run on the ground, Oregon was forced to drift away from the script and try new ways to move the ball. Chip Kelly made some gutsy calls to fake punts and convert a couple of fourth downs, but not having a "go-to" play for those "…and Goal" situations has got to be scary for Oregon fans. The Ducks have rarely this season HAD TO HAVE a score like they on Monday. My guess is from now on they'll have that play dialed up. GRADE: D

Final Grade 

Oregon is going to remember for a long time the two trips inside the 10 yard line that only produced 3 points. Combined with the two interceptions and six costly penalties, there were a lot of mistakes made on Oregon's end. Having said that, it is awfully impressive that it still took a field goal as time expired for Auburn to beat them. As many mistakes as the Ducks had, they still found ways to come up with big stops and clutch conversions to hang in the game. The one thing that Oregon will have going for them moving forward is a roster full of young talent. Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and Kenjon Barner will all be back next year, and you can bet they will be hungry to get back to this game next year after losing the way they did. GRADE: B-
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:12 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 12:28 am

FINAL: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

Posted by Chip Patterson

It was not the game we expected, mostly.  We figured it would be a classic, and we knew that it would be the ultimate test for two very well-coached teams.  But we did not figure to see the kinds of defensive performances that we saw out of Oregon and Auburn on Monday evening in Glendale.  Both defensive units came out well-prepared and charged up to make a statement, after hearing more than a month of hype for the opposing offenses.  But when two teams are as good as Auburn and Oregon, you knew there were going to be big plays.

In the end, the most significant plays were made by true freshman Michael Dyer, who converted two game-clinching runs with the game tied at 19 with less than three minutes remaining.  First there was the 37 yard scramble, where Dyer rolled over the defender without letting his knee touch the ground.  When Dyer stood up and saw his teammates screaming at him to run, he took off down the field to put the Tigers in field goal range.  Just when you began trying to center the ball for kicker Wes Byrum, Dyer broke loose again for 16 yards to move the ball to the 1 yard line.  Byrum, Auburn's career scoring leader, finished his career by nailing the chip shot to give Auburn the 22-19 win the BCS National Championship.

Auburn become the fifth straight National Champion from the SEC, and amongst a season of off-field turmoil, no team has overcome more across the entire season than the Tigers.  Auburn started the season ranked outside the Top 20 in the polls, and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was able to do what eight other Heisman winners weren't able to do - win in the BCS National Championship Game.

In the end Oregon will look back at this game and have a lot of regrets.  Turning the ball over on downs at the goal line, six costly penalties, and simply being unable to impose their will against Auburn's defense will haunt Ducks fans when they remember this night against the Tigers.  The Oregon defense did their part, holding Cam Newton in check as much as they could.  But Auburn, as a team, was too good on this particular night.  When Newton couldn't impose his will, Dyer did.  When Auburn's offense couldn't score, the Tigers defense stepped up and kept Oregon from doing so as well.  The focus may have been on a few players, but we were reminded on the biggest stage what kind of team effort it takes to win a National Championship.   
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:05 am

Auburn 19, Oregon 19 (2:33 4Q)

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Ducks were getting pounded by Auburn as the Tigers continued to eat clock with the rushing game.  When Auburn held Oregon to another punt with 5:05 remaining someone had to make a big play in order to keep the Tigers from putting Oregon in a tight spot.  After all, the Tigers used 4:26 of the game clock on the drive before.  Then Casey Matthews punched the ball out of Cam Newton's hands in pursuit and caused the turnover that put Oregon back into the game.

The Ducks almost had it all end on 4th and 5 at the Auburn 40 yard line, but Thomas found D.J. Davis for a 29 yard reception to keep Oregon in the game.  LaMichael James took the ball into the end zone three plays later after a Nick Fairley offsides call, and Oregon converted on the two-point conversion.  We've got a classic folks, just as we expected. 

Posted on: January 10, 2011 11:34 pm

Auburn 19, Oregon 11 (11:00 4Q)

Posted by Chip Patterson

Auburn was able to capitalize on the goal line stand by pounding the ball with Michael Dyer, almost moving the ball into Oregon territory.  But Oregon held Newton on 3rd down and forced the Tigers to punt.  Pinned deep in their own territory, Oregon was forced to make plays as well.  Thomas converted a 33 yard pass to David Paulson on 3rd and 18 to move the Ducks out near midfield.  

But just like Oregon did the possession before, the Tigers shut down Oregon before they could get those few extra first downs to move into field goal range.  After another punt, it seems like both coaches are ready to play the field position game as long as this stays a one score game.  Credit the Auburn defense for dialing up the pressure on Darron Thomas near the end of that last drive, really making it uncomfortable for the quarterback to get through his progression.  
Posted on: January 10, 2011 11:12 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 11:15 pm

Auburn 19, Oregon 11 (2:26 3Q)

Posted by Chip Patterson

Just when Oregon needed a spark on offense, Chip Kelly dialed up another fake from the special teams script.  On 4th down, punter Jackson Rice converted a fake punt pass Marvin Johnson to keep the drive alive.  Darron Thomas kept the momentum going with a 44 yard pass to big receiver Lavasier Tuinei.  But with their backs against the goal line, Auburn's defense held strong on four straight Ducks rushing attempts.

It was a huge stop for Auburn, who maintained their control of the line of scrimmage when they needed it most.  Oregon now must force a quick punt or a turnover to keep Newton from getting in a rhythm.  The Tigers have done a great job finishing opponents all season, and this is the time of the game when it usually happens.  There has been no update on LaMichael James, who exited the game with a left hand injury.  Oregon fans do wish he could have been out there for 4th and Goal.  This could be very different game if he was.  

Posted on: January 10, 2011 10:57 pm

Auburn 19, Oregon 11 (7:48 3Q)

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Tigers took advantage of their first second-half possession by marching 60 yards in 9 plays, and increasing their lead to 19-11.  Newton tried to run four times, but was held to just 16 yards on the drive.  Phillip Lutzenkirchen finally made his first reception for the Tigers, breaking free for a 39 yard reception to set up the field goal.

Oregon has yet to put together a really impressive drive offensively since early in the second quarter.  They will need their offense to produce a stop or turnover in order to keep Auburn from slowly slipping away.  Currently being out-gained by Auburn 340 to 268, the Ducks can only hang around for so long without being able to impose their will offensively.

Posted on: January 10, 2011 10:14 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 10:18 pm

Auburn 16, Oregon 11 (Halftime)

Posted by Chip Patterson

What shouldn't be forgotten is that both of these offenses have been slow-starting units all season.  In each team's biggest game of the season (Stanford, Alabama), it wasn't until the second half that the potent offense really started clicking.  Here in this national championship, it just took a quarter of jitters before the big plays started stacking up.  

That being said, it has been a strange game thus far.  Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton short-armed a wide open Eric Smith on 4th and Goal, but then after an Auburn safety redeemed himself with a 30 yard touchdown strike to Emory Blake.  There was the two-point conversion, three interceptions, two different scoring bursts that included 18 points in a five minute span and 9 more in the last 3:26.

Credit both defenses for entering the game extremely well prepared.  Both coaching staffs have their defensive units fired up and dialed into the game, playing much better than most anyone could have expected.  But the big plays are starting to pile up, and something tells me that they will continue to as the game progresses.

As far as momentum goes, Auburn has to like their position heading into halftime.  Except for the 81 yard Jeff Maehl reception, Auburn's defense has kept Oregon's in check.  The Ducks only have 38 yards on the ground, making it very difficult for them to reach their 305 yard team average by the end of the game.  

But knowing both coaches, there will be adjustments made at halftime to respond.  The long wait has clearly benefited both teams, but the halftime adjustments will make the different in who is crowned this year's national champion.  Keep it here folks, I would not be surprised if we have a memorable finish in Glendale.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 9:42 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 9:45 pm

Oregon 11, Auburn 7 (10:58 2Q)

Posted by Chip Patterson

Oregon stared down 93 yards to score down 7 and did not break a sweat.  Darron Thomas shook off memories of two interceptions and connected with Jeff Maehl down the middle of the field for an 81 yard bomb that set up the Ducks first touchdown of the game.  After James took the screen pass in for the score, head coach Chip Kelly made the call to go for two on a fake field goal for the extra point.  Rob Beard made the corner as he was brought down into the end zone to put the Ducks back in front, 11-7.

It was a huge swing of momentum for the Ducks, who desperately needed a spark after failing to score on the three yard line.  The two point conversion erased memories of a Newton-led scoring drive, though the short rest could have an effect on the Oregon defense. 

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