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Bowl Championship Series title game could come down to defense

Both Auburn and Oregon have high-powered offenses. Auburn Coach Gene Chizik was Texas' defensive coordinator when the Longhorns played USC in the 2006 title game and stopped the Trojans on a critical fourth-and-two situation.

January 09, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • The Auburn defense stops South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the SEC championship game at the Georgia Dome.
The Auburn defense stops South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore… (Chris Keane / Reuters )

The offenses are high-powered. Both seemingly score at will.

But the outcome of Monday night's Bowl Championship Series title game between Auburn and Oregon could come down to one huge defensive play.

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik has seen it before.

Chizik was Texas' defensive coordinator when the Longhorns played defending BCS champion USC in the 2006 BCS title game at the Rose Bowl.

The Trojans held a 38-33 lead late in the fourth quarter. They faced a critical fourth-and-two situation at Texas' 45. If USC converted, the game was essentially over.

With Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush watching from the sideline, the Trojans put the ball in the hands of LenDale White. The powerful White had scored three touchdowns in the game on the same play.

This time, however, Texas stopped him.

"Obviously, that was a huge play that will always, for me personally, be one that I will remember," Chizik said Sunday. "I think that might have been the only time we stopped them … in the second half, if I can remember correctly. But it was probably the most important."

The stop set the stage for Longhorns quarterback Vince Young's late touchdown. Texas won, 41-38.

"In these games, there's always two or three plays that are going to stand out that everybody is going to remember," Chizik said. "That [defensive play] was one of them at the time. You know, this game coming up could come down to the exact same thing."

Rowe rising

Oregon defensive end Kenny Rowe is primed for another impressive bowl performance.

In last year's Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State, the former Long Beach Poly High star had three sacks and was selected as the defensive player of the game.

"He shows up in big games and we need him to continue to do that," Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said. "Hopefully, he can have another Rose Bowl-type performance on Monday."

Rowe, a senior, has six sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for losses.

TV Land

The BCS game, like the Rose Bowl, will be telecast on ESPN rather than ABC.

The move has angered some fans who do not subscribe to cable or satellite services.

"A sports fan's existence now pretty much requires cable or satellite, and it is not just for what we offer; it is what their local regional sports networks offer, what other national telecasters offer," said Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming.

Magnus said ESPN was "mindful" of the issue.

"We really believe based on our research that people will find a way, whether that is to go to a friend's house, whether that's to go to a sports bar, restaurant to watch the game. … We're sensitive to it, but at the same time, the numbers bear out that people watch events as much on cable as anything else."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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