Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Auburn Wins National Championship in Barn-Burner

Freshman running back Michael Dyer celebrates a late game run with teammates.
In a match-up that  most experts had expected would be a shoot out, the University of Auburn Tigers defeated the University of Oregon Ducks 22-19 in a tightly fought game to win the NCAA National Football Championship. The Duck's wide-open, no-huddle spread option offense had been racking up 304 rushing yards and 49 points per game. Their fast pace and frequent risk taking had opposing defenses on their heels. Their consistently productive drives and relentless style had opponents approaching exhaustion by the end of the third quarter, allowing the Duck offense to pour on the yards and points as they closed out their opposition.

Two factors minimized the effectiveness of the Ducks 'blur' offense, the first being the Auburn defense, which was significantly more stout up the middle and fast to the edges than any prior Duck opponent. Oregon's efforts to run the ball between the tackles on various option reads was more often than not stymied at the line of scrimmage or tackled for a loss by the Auburn defenders. Equally effective in reducing Oregon's offensive production was Auburn's own offense, which had the capacity to sustain long drives and keep the Ducks off the field, giving the Tiger defense the chance to keep fresh as the game wound down.

The classic confrontation occured in the third quarter. Auburn had stopped Oregon near mid-field when the aggressive Ducks ran the ball off a fake punt formation, gaining 11 yards and the first down. Auburn's defense had to return to the field and were immediately placed under pressure by a long pass from Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas, who completed it to receiver Lavsier Tuinei to reach the Auburn 3 yard line. From there Oregon attempted to power the ball in for the go ahead touchdown. With their backs against the wall and facing the high powered Ducks offense, the Auburn defense stuffed the first three attempts, yielding only two yards and leaving the Ducks at 4th and goal from the one. The next play saw Oregon test the middle of the Auburn defense again. As Oregon's Kenjon Barner found out, it's rather difficult to run the ball between the tackles when you are running against Auburn's defense. Stuffed for no gain, the ball was turned over on downs.

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