How was this bowl season better than a playoff?

Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton (R) is tackled by Oregon Ducks Spencer Paysinger during the second quarter in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Bill Hancock seems like a nice enough guy but he’s delusional if he thinks that this past bowl season was a rousing success and that it proved that there’s no need for a playoff.

First and foremost, that title game was terrible. It may have had an exciting finish but a great game it was not.

Two of the most explosive offenses in the nation were on display Monday night and yet, you couldn’t have asked for worse field conditions. This should have been the most entertaining game of the season but from the opening kickoff, players resembled hockey players sliding on a sheet of ice. Neither team could catch their footing, which is probably why the combined score totaled only 41 points (or 31 fewer points than what Vegas installed for the over/under). How does this happen in an indoor stadium when the grass can easily be maintained?

Granted, it’s not the BCS’ fault that the game was rather lousy on a whole. Even if there were a playoff, there would be no guarantee that all the games would be exciting. But at the very least, the teams would be playing for something every week.

The matchup between Auburn and Oregon was dead on, but the BCS largely struck out with its other games. They made Stanford fly cross-country just to crush an overmatched Virginia Tech team and there’s no reason to relive the Oklahoma-UConn debacle.

The Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl were both highly entertaining – I’ll give the BCS that. But why must there be a long delay between the BCS bowl games and the championship? And for the love of college football, why were the Go Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl shown as a lead up to the national title game? I felt bad for the kids who played in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl because nobody cared by that point. They made those poor kids play on Sunday night following four NFL playoff games – only action junkies tuned into that one.

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Dyer’s fourth quarter run saves Newton, propels Auburn to national title victory

Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton holds the championship trophy after the Tigers defeated the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Here are five quick-hit thoughts about Auburn’s wild 22-19 win over Oregon in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.

1. In the end, it was a freshman and not a Heisman winner who won it for Auburn.
Cam Newton played a great game. He completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for 265 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for 65 yards on 22 carries. But he didn’t put together one of those special performances that Auburn fans were accustomed to seeing all year. His fourth quarter fumble set up LaMichael James’ touchdown run and Darron Thomas’ wild 2-point conversion pass to Jeff Maehl, which tied the game at 19-19 with 2:33 remaining. But in the end, Michael Dyer’s “controversial” 37-yard run set the Tigers up for Wes Byrum’s 19-yard game-winning field goal. I put “controversial” in quotation marks because it wasn’t really controversial, per se. He definitely wasn’t down and the refs never blew the whistle, but I’ve seen officials stop plays when a player’s forward momentum was less stopped than that. Still, credit Dyer for having the wherewithal to keep his knees off the ground when he was being tackled and the Auburn sideline for instinctively telling him to keep running when they saw he wasn’t down. The Tigers’ Heisman-winning quarterback played well but Dyer and Auburn’s defense were the main reasons the Tigers won their second national championship in school history. Seeing as how Dyer is only a freshman, Auburn’s backfield is set for the next couple of seasons.

2. Ted Roof defensive game plan was tremendous.
Roof will certainly sleep easy tonight. He had six weeks to figure out how to slow down Oregon’s explosive offense and that’s exactly what he did. This was an offense that led the nation in points per game (47.5) and was fifth in rushing yards per contest (290.1). Yet the Tigers held the Ducks to 19 points and 81 total rushing yards. That’s amazing. For weeks pundits debated whether or not Auburn’s defense would rise to the challenge and yet Roof’s squad made it look easy for most of the game. Even when the Ducks scored late to tie it at 19-all, Auburn didn’t make it easy for them around the goal line. And that drive was set up when Casey Matthews punched the ball out of Newton’s hands to give Oregon the ball at the 40-yard line, so Roof’s squad was put in a bad spot. What an incredible effort.

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BCS National Championship Preview: Oregon vs. Auburn

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Monday, January 10, 2011
Time: 8:30PM ET

Why Watch: You mean, besides the fact that it’s the biggest college football game of the year and that the NCAA will get to crown a mythical national champion? With the way both of these offenses can light up a scoreboard, fans should get the shootout they expect. This matchup features two of the nation’s best players in Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Heisman finalist LaMichael James. If the game comes down to defense, Oregon ranks 14th in the nation in scoring and Auburn is 54th. But as teams like South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Georgia found out this season, Newton often saves his best for the fourth quarter. This should be quite a game and one that lives up to its hype.

Game Facts: The Tigers are 20-13-2 overall in bowl games, which ranks them as one of the best programs in the nation when it comes to postseason play. They rank 16th in all-time bowl appearances with 35, are 13th all-time in bowl wins at 20, and are tied for 22nd in all-time bowl win percentage at .600. They’ve won three straight bowl games and six out of their last seven, which includes a wild 38-35 win over Northwestern in last year’s Outback Bowl. During Mike Bellotti’s tenure as head coach between 1995 and 2008, the Ducks went to bowl games every year except the ’96 and ’04 seasons. In 2010, Oregon fell to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, which dropped them to 1-4 all-time in Rose bowl appearances.

Key Player: Craig Stevens, Auburn.
We know that Nick Fairley can get the job done in the middle, and that Auburn can be very tough to run on because of his stout play. But Oregon attacks you on the edges and Stevens, an outside linebacker, will play a huge role in trying to stop the Ducks’ potent offense. If he can keep contain, Oregon might be in for a long day. But if he can’t, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner will spend a lot of time running through the Auburn secondary.

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