Both Auburn and Oregon show why they should play for the National Championship

Auburn and Oregon cleared the last hurdle between their final opponent and a date with each other to determine the 2010 college football national champion.

No. 2 Auburn destroyed any hope 18th-ranked South Carolina had of a shot at the Southeastern Conference title by crushing the Gamecocks 56-17 in their playoff game in Atlanta (GA). The difference on paper was the transfer of junior college Cam Newton, an overnight sensation on the mainstream college scene who has benefited from a strong Tigers supporting cast around him.

Newton led Blinn College to the 2009 Junior College National Championships, passing for 2,833 yards and 22 touchdowns, and rushing for 655 yards and 16 TDs. Rivals.com had Newton as a 5-star athlete and JUCO’s No. 1 prospect. Man, they were right.

Newton crushed South Carolina for 335 passing yards and 4 touchdown passes, and for 73 rushing yards and 2 other touchdowns. During Auburn’s undefeated 13-0 regular season, Newton has produced 49 rushing, passing and receiving touchdowns. That’s more than the total touchdown production among 87 of the 119 NCAA Division 1-A teams (or 73%).

His season passing totals include over 2,500 yards (67% completion rate) with 28 TD passes against 6 interceptions. His career totals include more than 1,400 yards (5.82 yards per carry) and 20 TDs. He has one receiving TD, making 49 total touchdowns. Auburn ranks sixth nationally in scoring offense and seventh in total offense.

No. 1 Oregon took his time taking control on the road against Oregon State with a 16-7 halftime lead. That changed in the second half when the Ducks scored 3 times and held the Beavers to 13 points, winning 37-20, not nearly as impressive as Auburn. That said, Oregon punched its ticket to the national showdown with a perfect 12-0 record.

The closest score made the top 25 AP voters move Auburn over Oregon in the new rankings after the weekend.

The victory gave Auburn the SEC title with a perfect 9-0 record, and Oregon became the Pacific 10 champion with a perfect 9-0 record.

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 never met in competition.

The BCS National Championship Game will be played on Monday, January 2. 10 in Glendale, AZ. It should be an offensive circus as Oregon has the No. 1 highest scoring offense (49+ points per game) and Auburn ranks sixth (42+ ppg). Oregon also ranks second in total offense and Auburn is seventh. So sparks will fly when these two collide.

The next big news was that 96th-ranked Miami-Ohio (9-4) defeated 45th-ranked favorite Northern Illinois (10-3), 26-21, to claim the title. of the Mid-American Conference. Both teams were 8-1 in conference play.

Miami-Ohio will face Middle Tennessee (6-6) in the Godaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 2. 6, and Northern Illinois will face Fresno State (8-4) in the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 18.

In an upset game, 10th-ranked Oklahoma (11-2) saw Nebraska (10-3) lead 20-17 at halftime before shutting out the Cornhuskers in the second half and scoring a pair of field goals to win, 23-20. . The Sooners take the Big 12 title with a 7-2 record and will now face Connecticut (8-4) in the BCS Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Connecticut won the Big East title (also known as “the biggest joke”) and earned a free pass to a BCS game doing so, a severe parody of justice. There are at least 24 teams qualified or more qualified to play in Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut is a really weak sister; the Huskies are currently ranked 25th in the new AP Poll, the first time they’ve been in the AP Poll all year.

The 12th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, who lost their first 2 games and then won 11 straight, beat 20th-ranked Florida State (9-4) to claim the Atlantic Coast Conference title, and will now face 5th-ranked Stanford (11-1) in the BCS Orange Bowl on January 1. 3.

In other action, Boise State (11-1) beat Utah State 50-14, Nevada (12-1) beat Louisiana Tech 35-17, West Virginia (9-3) beat Rutgers 35-14, and Hawaii ( 10-3), ranked 25th, beat UNLV 59-21.

Boise State will play Utah (10-2) in the Maaco Bowl on December 22, Nevada will face Boston College (7-5) in the Fight Hunger Bowl on January 22. On December 9, West Virginia hosts North Carolina State (8-4) in the Champs Sports Bowl on December 28, and Hawaii will face Tulsa (9-3) in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Another game deserves mention. The unranked Washington Huskies (6-6) won their third straight game to become bowl eligible by beating unranked state rival Washington State (2-10), 35-28.

The Huskies were led by Chris Polk, who gained 284 yards on 29 carries (9.79 ypc) and scored twice on rushes of 2 and 57 yards. Senior quarterback Jake Locker’s 61-yard and 27-yard touchdown passes to Jermaine Kearse helped a lot. The 27-yarder produced the go-ahead lead with a jump catch in the end zone with 44 seconds left.

Washington will face Nebraska (10-3) in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30. The Cornhuskers invaded Husky Stadium earlier this year and completely destroyed Washington, 56-21. Jake Locker, who played injured for much of the season, had his worst day as a Husky. Nebraska should be a heavy favorite in this game, and the Huskies are not the same team that faced them before, which Nebraska may find out soon enough.

Most of the qualified teams have already finished their regular season play. They include TCU (3rd), Wisconsin (4th), Stanford (5th), Ohio State (6th), Michigan State (7th), Arkansas (8th), LSU (12 .°), Missouri (14th), Oklahoma State (15th), Texas A&M (18), Alabama (19), Utah (21) and Mississippi State (22).

There is only one more regular season game to be played this Saturday: the annual Army-Navy game.

Bowl game action begins on Saturday, December 18 with Brigham Young (6-6) and UTEP (6-6).

I’m skipping my Top 25 poll this week as the regular season is over. I will do a final poll of the top 25 after all bowling games have been played.

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

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