Auburn's BCS title highlights top moments of season

The Tigers came close to not even reaching the game, but got there and beat Oregon in a memorable matchup.

January 11, 2011|Chris Dufresne

Texas Christian won the Rose Bowl, which was televised on cable. Stanford played in the Orange Bowl. The Big Ten Conference was 0-5 on New Year's Day, Reggie Bush returned his Heisman Trophy and USC went on probation.

Just another boring year in college football.

Our 10 top moments:

1. Auburn wins it all

Auburn overcame all kinds of craziness this season to claim its first national title since 1957, the capper coming Monday night with a last-second win over Oregon in the Bowl Championship Series title game. A single play in several games this season could have doomed Auburn's hope, but the Tigers seemed to get better with every close win. What does not kill you makes you BCS champion. War Eagle!

2. Cam time

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton dominated the news, on and off the field. The junior college transfer completed one of the most dominating single seasons in NCAA history. Newton finished with 50 touchdowns, won the Heisman and led Auburn to the national title. This after his playing status was clouded for weeks when it was revealed his father, Cecil, allegedly shopped him to Mississippi State for $180,000. The NCAA ruled Cam eligible because it could not tie him or Auburn to the allegations. This was likely Newton's one and only season at Auburn.

3. The day after

The Friday after Thanksgiving, knuckles down, was the best day in college football this season. In the morning, Auburn spectacularly rallied from 24-0 down to shock Alabama. That night, across the country, Nevada pulled off a shocker in overtime after Boise State's Kyle Brotzman missed a chip-shot field-goal try at the end of regulation. Two plays that day, one in Tuscaloosa, Ala., one in Reno, could have landed Boise State in this year's national title game. The Broncos ended up in the Las Vegas Bowl.

4. 'Mids' go major

What a year for Texas Christian, Nevada and Boise State, which combined for a 38-2 record. All three capped brilliant seasons with bowl victories. Texas Christian acquitted itself admirably with a 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs made Ohio State President Gordon Gee eat his words after he said "non-AQ" teams didn't deserve a shot at the national title because they play "Sisters of the Poor." Texas Christian, Boise State and Nevada finished in the top 11 of the final Associated Press poll. Texas Christian received three first-place votes in the AP and one in the final USA Today coaches' index.

5. Power shifts

The Pacific 10 Conference nearly became the Pac-16 in June and settled on becoming the Pac-12 in a free-for-all expansion grab that re-shaped the college landscape. Texas rejected a Pac-10 offer that would have resulted in the first super conference. The Pac-10 ended up adding Colorado and Utah, Nebraska is leaving the Big 12 Conference to join the Big Ten, Boise State is headed from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference, and Texas Christian announced it would join the Big East Conference in 2012. The Big Ten now has 12 teams and the Big 12 has 10.

6. Quack attack

Oregon fell short of winning its first national title but in many ways revolutionized the sport. Second-year Coach Chip Kelly pushed the limits by trying to see how fast he could play a 60-minute game. Coaches came from all over to watch the break-neck speed of Oregon's practices, which featured loud music and nonstop action. The Ducks averaged 79 plays per game and caused opposing teams to use unsportsmanlike delay tactics to slow the pace. A California player and coach were actually caught in cahoots faking an injury on the field.

7. The Stanford miracle

Jim Harbaugh, coaching at I-AA San Diego, inherited a one-win team when he arrived at The Farm. In four remarkable years, he transformed the Cardinal into a team that was one bad half at Oregon from playing for the national title. Stanford capped its first 12-win season with a 40-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Shortly after that game, star quarterback Andrew Luck surprisingly announced he was returning for his junior season. However, Harbaugh cashed in on his success to take over the San Francisco 49ers.

8. L.A. is Sanctions City

The Reggie Bush case finally caught up with USC last spring when the NCAA levied severe sanctions against the school in a case that cited the athletic department for lack of institutional control. Bush never admitted guilt but became the first winner to return his Heisman Trophy. USC will be stripped of its 2004 BCS national title after the school exhausts the NCAA appeals process. USC, banned from bowl participation this year, finished 8-5.

9. Coaching carousel

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