BCS Championship 2011: 5 Things We Learned From The Championship Game
The 2010 college football season is done.
Auburn is the champion given the system we have.
In a game that featured every possible way to score a point, the Tigers defeated the Oregon Ducks, 22-19, but it wasn't easy. The game came down to the final tick of the clock.
What did this year's title game teach us as football fans?
This slide show will look at five things we learned.
The Poor Playing Surface May Be a BCS Metaphor
In a game for all the marbles, it's too bad the players were playing on them.
The field turf at University of Phoenix Stadium was terrible.
The technology of the "slideable field" at the stadium is amazing, and a whole new field was brought in for the championship game after the Fiesta Bowl last week, but the results were incredibly disappointing.
Viewers of the ESPN broadcast were amazed that, given the number of times the announcers said some variable of the phrase, "He slips and goes down," they didn't address the major issue.
The field stunk. And it was obvious from the opening kickoff, when Oregon's returner slipped while fielding the ball. And it got worse. Huge chunks of turf were churned up. Running backs and receivers felt their feet flying out from under them.
It might be a metaphor for the BCS: All style and little real substance. Sure, it looked good, but the foundation was fundamentally flawed.
Who doesn't want a playoff system (besides the big-money conference kingpins)? Until we get one, we'll have teams like TCU who had a perfect season and still no chance at the top spot. That won't take the shine off Auburn's win, but it will always leave questions in the minds of some about the best team in the nation.
Ask the perfect Auburn teams of the past if they'd've liked a playoff.
The Old Adage Is True: Offense Wins Games; Defense Wins Championships
We've heard it forever.
Offense is great, but unless you can stop the other guys, you will not win the big game.
Cal showed Auburn the template for how to slow down the high-powered Duck offense, and the Tigers had the weapons to make that plan successful against Oregon.
And Oregon, on their part, almost won because of the stout defense on their side as well. When you can hold Cam Newton and the Auburn offense to fewer than 25 points a game, you've done well.
In the final analysis, however, it was the defensive line of Auburn, weighing some thirty pounds more per man than the Oregon offensive line, that literally man-handled the smaller Ducks.
The result was that Auburn held Oregon to a season low in rushing, and Tiger D linemen were in the Duck offensive backfield all night, most tellingly on the safety.
So, when Gene Chizik holds that trophy high, he can thank his defense, at least on this championship night.
Take Away Cam Newton, and Auburn Is Still a Really Good Team
Sure, Cam is this year's Heisman winner.
But Auburn isn't all Cameron Newton.
There's a stellar cast surrounding him that won that crystal football in Phoenix last night.
Ask Alabama if Auburn is Cam only. Ask South Carolina. Ask any number of teams about the other players on the Tiger sideline.
Wes Byrum comes to mind. Three times this season, including last night, the kicker won games for the Tigers.
That defense. Those receivers. And what about player of the game, true freshman Michael Dyer? What about an experienced offensive line that punched huge holes in opposing defenses?
Sure, without Cam, the Tigers wouldn't be in Phoenix, but they wouldn't be there without a host of other Tigers, either.
Oregon Will Probably Be the Cream Of The Pac-10 Crop For Some Time
Oregon came within an eyelash of being the ones celebrating today.
But it was not to be.
Sure, they played well against this year's SEC champion, but it was a case of too much Auburn when it mattered.
The offensive core returns to Eugene next season. James and Thomas are sophomores. There are speed guys in waiting who will replace those receivers who are leaving. In this offensive system, you can plug in burners with good hands and get much the same results.
And Chip Kelly won't forget this loss. He'll turn it into a learning opportunity and come back next year stronger than ever. Sure, he faces key losses on the offensive line, but he has the No. 8 recruiting class coming in and can fill the gaps quickly.
"We'll be back," Kelly said, post-game.
That does not bode well for his Pac-10 foes for the foreseeable future.
SEC! SEC! SEC!
Is it even a question any more as to which conference is the best?
Let the naysayers begin their yells, but the results on the field speak for themselves.
The SEC is simply the best in the land.
Three out of the last four Heisman winners. Five national champions in a row. Too many other individual national awards to both coaches and players to mention.
Besides, as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer pointed out pre-game, the SEC has the most players in the NFL of any conference.
And, with the recruiting success that most SEC schools enjoy, it doesn't look like any of that will change soon.
What should we call this?