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Both Auburn and Oregon Prove Why They Should Play for the National Championship
Both Auburn and Oregon have passed the final hurdle between their final opponent and a date against each other to determine the 2010 college football national champion.
No. 2 Auburn dashed all hopes of 18th-ranked South Carolina of a Southeastern Conference title by thrashing the Gamecocks 56-17 in their playoff game in Atlanta (GA). The difference on paper was junior college transfer Cam Newton, an overnight sensation on the major college scene who benefited from a strong cast of Tigers around him.
Newton led Blinn College to the 2009 Junior College National Championship, passing for 2,833 yards and 22 touchdowns, and rushing for 655 yards and 16 touchdowns. Rivals.com had Newton as the 5-star athlete and the No. 1 JUCO prospect. Man, were they right.
Newton burned South Carolina for 335 passing yards and 4 scoring, and for 73 rushing yards and 2 other scores. In Auburn’s unbeaten 13-0 regular season run, Newton produced 49 scores in running, passing and receiving. That’s more than the entire touchdown production among 87 of 119 NCAA Division 1-A teams (or 73%).
His season totals for passing include over 2,500 yards (67% completion rate) with 28 TD passes to 6 interceptions. His rushing totals include over 1,400 yards (5.82 yards per carry) and 20 touchdowns. He has a receiving TD, making 49 total touchdowns. Auburn ranks 6th nationally in scoring offense and 7th in total offense.
1 Oregon took its time to take control on the road against Oregon State with a 16-7 halftime lead. That changed in the 2nd half as the Ducks scored 3 times and held the Beavers to 13 points, winning 37-20, not as impressive as Auburn. That said, Oregon clinched their ticket to the national showdown with a perfect 12-0 score.
The tighter scoreline caused AP Top 25 voters to move Auburn ahead of Oregon in the new standings after the weekend.
The victory gave Auburn the SEC title with a perfect 9-0 record, and Oregon became the 10th Pacific champion with a perfect 9-0 mark.
Auburn won the national championship in 1957, but neither Auburn nor Oregon have played in a national championship game since the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) system was instituted in 1998. Auburn and Oregon have not never encountered in competition.
The BCS National Championship game will be played on Monday, January 10 in Glendale (AZ). It should be an offensive circus since Oregon has the No. 1 scoring offense (49+ ppg) and Auburn is ranked 6th (42+ ppg). Oregon is also 2nd in total offense and Auburn 7th. So, sparks will fly when these two face off.
The second biggest news was Miami-Ohio (9-4), 96th, which upset Northern Illinois (10-3), 45th, 26-21, to win the Mid-American Conference title. Both teams were 8-1 in conference play.
Miami-Ohio will meet Middle Tennessee (6-6) in the Godaddy.com Bowl on January 6, and Northern Illinois will face Fresno State (8-4) in the Humanitarian Bowl on December 18.
In a game of upsets, 10th-ranked Oklahoma (11-2) spotted Nebraska (10-3) with a 20-17 halftime lead before eliminating the Cornhuskers in the 2nd half while scoring a few field goals to win, 23-20. The Sooners win the Big 12 title at 7-2 and will now face Connecticut (8-4) in the BCS Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Connecticut won the Big East title (AKA “biggest joke”) and got a free pass to a BCS game by doing so – a serious travesty of justice. There are at least 24 or more qualified teams to play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut is a real weak sister; the Huskies are currently ranked 25th in the new AP poll, the first time they have participated in the AP poll all year.
The 12th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, who lost their first 2 games and then won 11 in a row, beat 20th-ranked Florida State (9-4) to claim the Premier League title. the Atlantic Coast, and will now face 5th-ranked Stanford (11-1) in the BCS Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.
In other action, Boise State (11-1), 9th, beat Utah State 50-14, Nevada, 14th (12-1), beat Louisiana Tech 35-17, West Virginia, 23rd (9 -3), beat Rutgers 35 -14, and Hawaii (10-3), 25th, beat UNLV 59-21.
Boise State will face Utah (10-2) at the Maaco Bowl on December 22, Nevada will face Boston College (7-5) at the Fight Hunger Bowl on January 9, West Virginia gets North Carolina State ( 8-4) in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 and Hawaii will meet Tulsa (9-3) in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
Another game worth mentioning. The unranked Washington Huskies (6-6) won their 3rd straight game to become bowl eligible by beating unranked rival Washington State (2-10), 35-28.
The Huskies were led by rushing Chris Polk, who gained 284 yards on 29 carries (9.79 ypc) while scoring twice on 2-yard and 57-yard runs. Senior QB Jake Locker’s 61-yard and 27-yard touchdown passes to Jermaine Kearse helped a heap. The 27-yarder gave the go-ahead for a leaping hold in the end zone with 44 seconds left.
Washington will face Nebraska (10-3) in the Holiday Bowl on December 30. The Cornhuskers invaded Husky Stadium earlier this year and completely trashed Washington, 56-21. Jake Locker, who played injured much of the season, had his worst day as a Husky. Nebraska should be heavily favored in this game, and the Huskies aren’t the same team that faced them earlier, which Nebraska might figure out soon enough.
The majority of ranked teams have already completed their regular season. They include TCU (3rd), Wisconsin (4th), Stanford (5th), Ohio State (6th), Michigan State (7th), Arkansas (8th), LSU (12th), Missouri (14th), Oklahoma State (15th ), Texas A&M (18th), Alabama (19th), Utah (21st), and Mississippi State (22nd).
There is only one regular season game left to play this Saturday – the annual Army-Navy game.
The bowling action begins Saturday, December 18 with Brigham Young (6-6) and UTEP (6-6).
I’m skipping my Top 25 poll this week since the regular season is over. I will run a final top 25 poll after all bowl games have been played.
Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley
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