Local Kicker Makes Auburn National Champions
GLENDALE, AZ (CBS4) – He may not have been the most highly recruited player to ever come out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, but kicker Wes Byrum’s 19-yards field goal as time expired gave Auburn the BCS National Championship as they beat Oregon 22-19.
Oregon had tied it at 19 with 2:33 left when Darron Thomas connected with Jeff Maehl on a tying 2-point conversion after LaMichael James scored on a shovel pass.
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Auburn came right back with a 73-yard drive, with freshman Michael Dyer making the key plays. First he rolled over an Oregon tackler and, with most of the players thinking the play was over around midfield, scooted another 30 yards to the 23.
A play later, Dyer went through the middle for 16 to the 1.
After Newton was pushed back a yard, Byrum came on with 2 seconds left to kick the winner and give Auburn its first national championship since 1957 and the Southeastern Conference’s fifth in a row.
Auburn fans celebrated the Tigers’ win in their traditional way by rolling trees at Toomers Corner, located at an intersection just off campus.
“It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!” thousands of fans cheered in the street.
The win gives the state of Alabama a unique claim with back-to-back BCS championships and Heisman trophies. Auburn and Cam Newton won this year, while Alabama and Mark Ingram won last year.
Auburn finished No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll. Auburn (14-0) began the season at No. 22. The previous lowest preseason ranking for a national champion in the Top 25 era was Oklahoma, which went from No. 19 to No. 1 in 2000. The Tigers received 56 of 59 first-place votes. One voter did not submit a ballot.
Undefeated TCU (13-0) will have to settle for No. 2. The Horned Frogs received the other three first-place votes.
Oregon finished third, a spot ahead of Pac-10 rival Stanford. Ohio State was fifth.
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