Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton headlines tonight’s Tostitos BCS National Championship game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Newton leads his #1 Tigers (13-0) against the #2 Oregon Ducks (12-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 EST on ESPN.
Auburn is favoured by 1 point by most sports books, according to Vegas Insider.
The game has a completely different feel this year compared to the Big 12 vs. SEC match ups of the last 2 years, with both schools making their first appearance in the BCS title game. There’s no past rivalry either, with the teams meeting for the first time in history.
Each side will take home about $21 million for participating, which will be distributed among their respective conferences. But there are other talking points that will be discussed before, during and after the game.
The Pac-10 will be represented in the BCS Championship Game for the first time in half a decade.
USC was the only Pac-10 school to make it there, reaching the game in both 2004 and 2005.
It was victorious against Oklahoma in 2004, but has since had its win formally vacated by the BCS after star running back Reggie Bush was declared retroactively ineligible.
The NCAA hit USC hard, handing the Trojans a 2-year ban from bowl games and stripping them of 30 scholarships over 3 years.
In steps Oregon, who look to permanently take over its fallen rival's mantle at the top of the Pac-10. The Ducks have years until the Trojans recover from the imposed sanctions, and a perfect season capped with a National Championship would solidify their position at the top of the Pac-10 heap.
Oregon's electric return man has returned four punts for touchdowns this year.
Auburn's punt coverage squad has done well this year, allowing just 5.5 yards per return, but that's because punt returners only attempted to run it back eight times all year.
If the Tigers have it their way, Harris will never touch the ball. But if he just gets his hands on it once or twice, he's an instant game-changer.
Auburn's All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley will be crucial to his squad's hopes of stopping the Ducks.
He's dominant up the middle, racking up 10.5 sacks and 21 tackles for losses, but how many downs will he manage before the 6'5', 298-pound behemoth gasses out? (Or gets called for an unnecessary roughness penalty?)
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has developed the most innovative spread-based no-huddle offence in college football. It's a prolific offence, averaging 49.3 points per game. But what's more intriguing is how they do it.
It's all about the pace.
At the end of every play they sprint to the new line of scrimmage, often having to wait for officials to spot the ball before they can fire off the next snap. When the spot's quick enough they're sometimes able to get the following play off in a blazing 10 seconds.
How do you cope with that? No one has been able to solve that puzzle yet.
Fairley and Tigers head coach Gene Chizik will certainly try.
Cam Newton has run wild all season.
The junior steamrolled every defensive scheme he faced, racking up 2,589 yards in the air and 1,409 on the ground with 49 total touchdowns en route to a Heisman Trophy.
The speedy quarterback has found the endzone at least twice in every game this year. He's simply unstoppable.
Oregon may disagree.
In theory, they need a perfect game from everyone on the defensive side of the ball to stop Newton from tasting the end zone. But even that won't be enough.
In reality, the only way that can stop him is by beating Newton on offence. Let the shootout begin.
Seven of the last 10 years the winner of the Heisman Trophy has gone on to lose their bowl game.
Until Alabama running back Mark Ingram capped his campaign off with a BCS National Championship, only a pair of USC quarterbacks, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer, were able to lead their teams to a bowl victory the same year of their Heisman win.
Cam Newton looks to dispel the nasty curse that claimed the last three quarterbacks to lift the Heisman.
Oklahoma's Sam Bradford threw 2 picks and lost the title game in 2008, Florida's Tim Tebow braved a broken hand but fell short against Michigan in the 2007 Capital One Bowl, and Ohio State's Troy Smith got torn to pieces in the 2006 title game by Florida 41-14.
An SEC team has won four straight BCS titles going into this game and the conference's teams have gone a perfect 6-0 overall in BCS Championship games.
Florida and LSU won two titles each, with Alabama and Tennessee each contributing one.
Now they look to Auburn to keep both streaks alive. Each SEC victory over the past four years has been over a Big 12 school, but the Tigers face a new threat in the Pac 10's Ducks.
The SEC has proven that they're the best conference in college football. Can the Ducks put their reign in question?
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