Auburn University won its first college football national championship since 1957 by beating the University of Oregon 22-19 on Wes Byrum’s 19-yard field goal as time expired.
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes in the Bowl Championship Series title game in Glendale, Arizona, and Auburn’s defense held the nation’s highest-scoring team to its second-lowest point total of the season.
“Anything is possible,” Newton said in a televised interview. “I guarantee five, six months ago, nobody would have bet their bottom dollar that Auburn would win the national championship. But we’re smiling right now.”
Auburn is the fifth straight school from the Southeastern Conference to win the national championship, following Alabama (2009), Florida (2006 and 2008) and Louisiana State (2007). The SEC now has a 7-0 record in the title game since the BCS was formed in 1998.
Auburn is the fourth team at college football’s highest level to finish a season with a 14-0 record, joining Alabama and Boise State last year and the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Oregon, which was seeking the first national title in school history, finishes the season with a 12-1 record.
Auburn drove 73 yards for the winning field goal after Oregon scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the game 19-19 with 2:33 left.
Held to one touchdown in the first 57 1/2 minutes, Oregon pulled even when LaMichael James had his second touchdown catch and Darron Thomas hooked up with Jeff Maehl in the back of the end zone on the two-point try.
The key play of Auburn’s winning drive was turned in by freshman running back Michael Dyer, who ran 37 yards to the Oregon 23 yard line. Dyer, who had 143 yards rushing, added a 16-yard run to set up Byrum’s winning kick.
“We’ve been there so many times,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said during the trophy presentation ceremony. “We just said we have to line up and do what we do one more time.”
Oregon entered the game averaging 49.3 points a game this season and only once before had been held to fewer than 37 points -- a 15-13 win at California in November.
Led by defensive lineman Nick Fairley, the Tigers’ defense had two interceptions and a safety, and delivered a third-quarter goal-line stand.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this defense,” Chizik said.
The championship caps an eventful season for Newton, who faced a probe into recruiting violations before winning the Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player.
The 21-year-old junior was cleared to play after the National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled last month that he was unaware of a pay-for-play demand organized by his father, who didn’t attend the championship game. Newton transferred to Auburn before this season after leading Blinn College in Texas to a junior college national title a year ago.
Newton is the second straight player to win the Heisman Trophy -- college football’s top individual award - - and then lead his team to a championship, following Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Newton completed 20 of 34 passes for 265 yards and two scores, while rushing for 65 yards on 22 carries.
Teams with the Heisman winner are 3-6 in the BCS title game since its inception in 1998.