The No. 1 ranked Auburn University Tigers captured the 2011 Bowl Championship Series college football title after edging out the No.2 Oregon University Ducks, 22-19, on Jan. 10 at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 64 tough-gained yards, but it was his Auburn teammates who stole the national stage.

Auburn freshman tailback Michael Dyer was named the Offensive Player of the Game after rushing for 143 yards. The freshman had two long runs that set up 10 of Auburn’s points.

“I was going out there, trying to make a play,” said Dyer, who wears jersey No. 5 because his brother was 5 years old when their dad died in a tragic car accident. “I just kept my feet moving… I prayed before the game and I know my dad was here with me tonight.”

Dyer was the most outstanding offensive player in a game that was expected to deliver a lot more points on the scoring board. Yet both teams played stout defense, especially Auburn who held Oregon’s LaMichael James, the top-ranked running back in the nation, to fewer than 50 yards rushing. Auburn’s defense was led by 298-pound defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who blew up every running play that came his way. Fairley finished with four tackles for a loss and was named the Defensive Player of the Game.

Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas finished with 363 passing yards and two touchdowns, despite the loss. His coach, Chip Kelly, said the team is disappointed they didn’t play better, but they’re already thinking about recuperating for next season.

“When it comes down to a field goal at the last second, you can always point to a play here, a play there, but it really doesn’t do much for you,” Kelly said. “We’re a forward-thinking operation, and we’ll learn from this thing and move forward.”

As for Newton and the Tigers, they plan on continuing their celebration of pulling off what no one would have expected just months ago. “Anything is possible,” Newton said. “I guarantee five or six months ago that no one would bet their last dollar that Auburn would win the national championship. And now we’re standing here.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor