Nick Fairley’s monster night proved crucial as Auburn won the BCS title, beating Oregon on a score of 22-19.
Fairley finds a hole Auburn’s Nick Fairley did a lot to improve his chances of going first overall in April’s NFL draft with a dominant performance against Oregon last night. The defensive tackle finished with three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Fairley was like a one-man swarm, ripping through the Ducks’ line repeatedly throughout the game. Fairley’s presence was vital as, despite a good showing by the Tigers’ secondary, Auburn fell victim to Darron Thomas’ best passing performance of the year. While the quarterback gave up two costly picks early, he racked up a career best 363 yards on 27 of 40 passing. Fairley was able to make key plays at critical times to ensure the big numbers didn’t translate into points. Despite posting his best ever numbers as a passer, this was a night to forget for Thomas. The dual-threat quarterback had a negative impact on the ground, finishing with -6 yards on 8 carries.
James stifled The poor performance by Thomas typified an awful night for the Ducks’ running game. For a team that averaged 231.7 yards on the ground for the season, they picked the wrong night to deliver a paltry 75 rushing yards. LaMichael James, had a season-low 49 yards on 13 carries and coughed up a safety. Kenjon Barner fared no better, with 11 carries for 32 yards. The poor stats were a result of Auburn’s success in closing off gaps at the line of scrimmage. The Tigers had more success than any team this season in stopping the Ducks in the backfield.
Dyer makes up for Newton’s off-night Auburn’s offense was well-balanced in terms of yardage but the Tigers were forced to work for yards on the ground. Cam Newton had a solid outing with his arm, going 20 of 34 for 265 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He failed to make a difference with his feet as Oregon’s defense held him to just 64 yards on 22 carries. On any other night that would have been disastrous for the Tigers but Michael Dyer recorded 143 yards on just 22 carries, including this startling run on the final drive where he narrowly avoided being downed before racing into the Ducks’ half.
While controversy will reign over Dyer’s run, on balance Auburn deserved it. After being leapfrogged out of a national title in 1983 and missing out on a chance to play for one in 2004, the Loveliest Village on the Plains is home to the national champions for the first time since 1957.