Auburn's Kodi Burns (18) and teammates celebrate after beating Oregon...

Auburn's Kodi Burns (18) and teammates celebrate after beating Oregon 22-19 in the BCS National Championship. (Jan. 10, 2011) Credit: AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The speed freaks were freaked out. The quick strike was struck down.

A game that matched two of college football's best offenses was decided, of course, by one of college's finest defenses.

Oregon was supposed to turn the BCS National Championship Game into a track meet, but Auburn, strong and resilent, wouldn't let the Ducks get untracked.

The offense nicknamed the Quack Attack was always under attack.

"We played the best game of our lives,'' Auburn coach Gene Chizik said of his team.

In the end, it was a 19-yard field goal by Wes Byrum on the game's final play that gave the Tigers a 22-19 victory, a score that might have have seemed unlikely when one school, Oregon averaged nearly 50 points a game and the other, Auburn, almost 43.

But Southern California coach Lane Kiffin, who lost to Oregon this season and (while at Tennessee) lost to Auburn last season, predicted exactly what would happen, although he wouldn't predict a winner leading up to the game.

"The key is not going to be who moves the ball,'' Kiffin told the Los Angeles Times, "it's who's going to be able to make them slow down and force them to make the mistake.''

That was Auburn, with a beast of a defensive tackle, Nick Fairley, who won the Lombardi Award and had a great deal to do with a Southeastern Conference team winning a fifth straight title.

Fairley seemed to spend as much time in the Oregon backfield as, well, the Oregon backfield.

"Our blocking needed to improve,'' Oregon coach Chip Kelly said after the Ducks' first loss in 13 games. "It was a battle up front between our O-line and their D-line.''

It was a great battle in a great game, one that thrilled a University of Phoenix Stadium record crowd of 78,603.

Auburn finished 14-0, and when it was over, the players and coaches raced onto the field to celebrate the school's second national title.

"I guarantee you six months ago nobody thought we could do it,'' said Cam Newton, Auburn's controversial - and Heisman Trophy-winning - quarterback.

Newton completed 20 of 34 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns, but it was that Auburn defense that made a difference. Only once, in a 15-13 win over California, had Oregon scored fewer than 37 points in a game. Now it's twice.

Oregon did get a touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:33 left in the game to tie it at 19, but in the third quarter, the Ducks could not score in four plays from the 3, a game-changing moment.

When the first quarter was scoreless, you knew it was going to be a strange evening. That was confirmed with a halftime score of 16-11, with Auburn in front. Oregon had the ball most of the first quarter, but after that Auburn controlled the game.

The Tigers finished with 519 yards on offense; Oregon, which prides itself on running off a play every 10 seconds and running up the score, had only 449, most of those through the air. Darron Thomas threw for 363.

"Auburn's front seven is really physical,'' Kiffin had pointed out. "Oregon's built a little bit different. They're not as big defensively but they are really fast and in such phenomenal shape, they're able to play their fourth-quarter defense.''

Auburn basically played defense all four quarters. The adage is that defense wins. In the 2011 BCS title game, it certainly did.

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