Cam Newton, Auburn Win BCS Championship Over Oregon With Help of Defense

Andrew RostenContributor IIJanuary 11, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Derek Winter #87 and Trent Fisher #31 of the Auburn Tigers react after kicker Wes Byrum #18 of the Auburn Tigers kicks a 19-yard game-winning field goal to defeat the Oregon Ducks 22-19 during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

It's an old saying that champions are not always great, but only great when they have to be.

That proved to be true for Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton as he tried to lead Auburn to its first national championship since 1957. He completed 20-of-34 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 64 yards.

And nobody can forget or legitimately downgrade the performance he put on to lead the Tigers to the BCS National Championship game.

But Newton proved to be human in this game. First, his offense fails to score a single point in the first quarter (the same goes for Oregon's offense, but we'll get on that shocking development later).

Then, with his team leading 19-11 late in the fourth quarter, Newton fumbled in Auburn's own territory. Oregon went on to score a touchdown and the tying two-point conversion.

But in order to be a champion in a team sport, you need to have help from your teammates when you cannot be the one who brings the trophy.

Following Oregon's tying score, Auburn running back Michael Dyer ran for 37 and 16-yard gains to set up Wes Bynum's game-winning, buzzer-beating, 19-yard field goal.

Dyer finished the game carrying the ball 22 times for 143 yards, a 6.5 yards-per-rush average.

But perhaps Newton's biggest supporters in this game were the men who made up Auburn's stingy defense.

As I said before, the Ducks were held scoreless throughout the first quarter, shocking those who were expecting this game to be a shootout with points piling up like a pinball machine (on behalf of the two offenses and the media that hyped them up so much, I apologize for disappointing you).

After Newton threw his only interception in the first quarter, the Tiger defense thwarted Oregon's following drive by coming up with a pick of its own with the Ducks near the red zone. Forced to throw the ball more quickly than desired, quarterback Darron Thomas was intercepted by Zac Etheridge.

That was one of two picks Thomas threw in Glendale, Arizona. Otherwise, he did not perform terribly for the Ducks, completing 27-of-40 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns.

Both of those TD passes were caught by running back, and Heisman candidate, LaMichael James, who finished the game by catching four passes for 39 yards but running 13 times for only 49 yards and no touchdowns.

Plus, 19 points? I know Auburn's defense is fairly decent to say the least, but still.

Needless to say, I expected more.

The same cannot be said, however, about a single player on Auburn's team. Coming into the game, all of the attention paid to the Tigers focused on Cam Newton.

As great a season he had in 2010, no one player can win a national championship by himself in a team sport, especially in football. Sometimes the other 10 players on the gridiron, and the 11 players on the other side of the ball, need to step up and do the job.

Sure enough, Auburn's "other" players did just that.

Two-Point Conversion

Apparently, scoring 17 points isn't enough for an Oregon Duck team that's used to aiming for something along the lines of 50.

So, following a go-ahead touchdown by James, coach Chip Kelly called for a fake PAT. Kicker Rob Beard received the pitch from his holder and ran it in to give the Ducks the two points and increase Oregon's lead to 11-7.

Well, I don't exactly know what Kelly was trying to accomplish with that trick play, but I guess when something works, you're a genius.

And, I guess in a game like this, you need to get your points any way you can get them.