Auburn vs. Oregon for BCS title
TURNS OUT, there was no suspense. Or controversy. At least maybe not outside of Texas Christian. For the first time since 2005, the two teams that were first and second in the BCS standings entering the final weekend of the season remained there.
TURNS OUT, there was no suspense. Or controversy. At least maybe not outside of Texas Christian.
For the first time since 2005, the two teams that were first and second in the BCS standings entering the final weekend of the season remained there.
And that year, Southern Cal and Texas went on to play one of the best title games ever. Maybe Auburn and Oregon can pull off something similar when they play in the BCS final on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
Both took care of business on Saturday. Auburn (13-0) beat South Carolina (9-4) for the second time, 56-17 in the SEC title game. And Oregon (12-0) won at Oregon State, 37-20.
So two programs that have never met have made it to the last game. Auburn, which has been installed as a 2 1/2-point favorite, has won one national title. That was 53 years ago. Oregon is still looking for its first. Neither has ever been to a BCS finale.
It does not figure to be a defensive struggle. For the third consecutive year, and seventh time in the last 8, the Heisman Trophy winner will be in the game. And it won't be Oregon running back LaMichael James, though he could be the runner-up. It should be noted that the guy who gets the trophy has only won twice in that span.
Last season, unbeatens Alabama and Texas finished 1-2. And unbeatens Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State went to other BCS bowls. This time, TCU is the only unbeaten that's not playing for the title. Instead, the Horned Frogs, who earned an automatic bid out of the Mountain West, will get one-loss Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the Rose.
Because Stanford, whose only loss was at Oregon, stayed at No. 4, it had to go to a BCS bowl as well. The Cardinal are playing two-loss Virginia Tech in the Orange. The Hokies won the ACC title with a win over Florida State.
Ohio State, whose only loss was to Wisconsin, will head to the Sugar against two-loss Arkansas. Both were at-large selections.
And in the Fiesta, two-loss Oklahoma, which won the Big 12 by beating Nebraska, was left with Big East survivor Connecticut, which becomes the fourth team to play in a BCS game with four losses. The other three were from the ACC.
Remember, the BCS is designed to match up Nos. 1 and 2. After that, it is what it is.
But Auburn and Oregon have been considered the two most worthy for quite some time. Now, if the game can only match the anticipation.
In 2004, Auburn was unbeaten but got left out in favor of Southern Cal and Oklahoma. In 2001, a one-loss Oregon finished fourth, behind a Nebraska team that lost its last game by 26 and didn't even play for the Big 12 title, and a two-loss Colorado club.
In 5 weeks, both will have the chance to get a trophy.
"It's what we dreamed about," said second-year Oregon coach Chip Kelly, whose team averages a national-best 49 points a game.
"This was our goal," said Auburn's second-year coach, Gene Chizik. "We have found a way, as a team, to come together.
"This is huge . . . for the Auburn family."
Oregon is only the second team from the Pac-10 to reach the BCS final, joining USC (2004 and '05). And it's the second team in the 13 years of the BCS to get this far looking for the program's first title. The other was Virginia Tech, in 1999 (the Hokies lost to Florida State).
This is the first time two teams that weren't ranked in the Top 10 to start the season played for a BCS ring. Oregon was 11th, Auburn 22nd. Both were breaking in new quarterbacks. Darron Thomas made people forget about Jeremiah Masoli at Oregon, while Cam Newton, the likely Heisman winner, has merely become the focal point of the year, on and off the field.
So, what more do you need in the way of a story line? Well, there's always the question of what uniform color combination Oregon will be wearing.
Teams from the Southeastern Conference, of course, have won the last four BCS titles and are 6-0 in this game.
Will any of that matter by the time the game finally gets here? The countdown is officially underway. *