Auburn wins national title in wild finish

By John Marshall

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 10 2011 11:24 p.m. MST

Auburn's Michael Dyer (5) is tackled short of the goal line by Oregon's Eddie Pleasant (11) defends during the second half of the BCS National Championship NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. Auburn won 22-19.

Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Two of the nation's most prolific offenses took a while to get going in the BCS championship.

Once they did, wow!

Auburn running back Michael Dyer had the wildest play in a crazy closing sequence, turning a short run into a game-changing 37-yarder to help the top-ranked Tigers beat No. 2 Oregon 22-19 Monday night for their first national title in 54 years.

Auburn and Oregon played one of the few scoreless quarters in BCS title game history to open and labored through two more quarters in an odd game that included a safety, a 2-point conversion scored by a kicker taking an option pitch and, at one point, an 11-9 lead by Oregon.

The closing sequence turned it into a game to remember.

It started with Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews running about 20 yards to chase down Auburn quarterback Cam Newton from behind, then poking the ball free from the Heisman Trophy winner. Teammate Cliff Harris recovered at Oregon's 45-yard line, giving the Ducks a chance, trailing by eight with 4:50 left.

Oregon, which had been stopped on a goal-line stand late in the third quarter, capitalized. The Ducks scored on a 2-yard shovel pass from Darron Thomas to LaMichael James. On the 2-point conversion, Thomas snagged the wayward snap, rolled right and threw back across his body to the back of the end zone, where Jeff Maehl leaped for the tying catch.

The Ducks left 2:33 on the clock. It was too much.

Auburn took over the next drive at its own 25 and was at the 40 with 2:08 left when Dyer took a handoff right and appeared to be tackled when he came down on Oregon's Eddie Pleasant around Auburn's 45.

Dyer's knee missed the ground by inches and his hand planted instead of his forearm. The officials never blew the whistle.

Dyer hesitated for a moment, then took off down the sideline, getting 32 more yards before really being tackled. After a long video review, the officials ruled Dyer never went down, giving the Tigers the ball at Oregon's 23-yard line.

Dyer nearly scored the game-winner on a 17-yard run up the middle that was overturned on review, but it still gave Auburn the ball at the 1 with 10 seconds left.

After Newton was stuffed at the line, Wes Byrum hit a 19-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Tigers rushing onto the field to celebrate a wild national title win.

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