BCS national championship: Closer look at the third quarter

January 11, 2011 

Key player

The defense. Aided by a first-down conversion on a fake punt and a circus catch by Lavasier Tuinei that went for a 43-yard gain, Oregon gained first-and-goal at the Auburn 3-yard line. But the Tigers’ defense then made another big stand in the shadow of their goal line. First, they stopped running back Kenjon Barner for a 3-yard loss, followed by a 1-yard run by quarterback Darron Thomas and a 4-yard Barner run to the 1. On fourth down, Barner found little running room in his backfield and then was met by linebacker Josh Bynes and safety Mike McNeil, among others, to fall just shy of the end zone and turn the ball over on downs.

Key stat

Zero. Oregon failed to score a single point in the third quarter -- marking the first time all season that the Ducks were held scoreless in a third quarter. In fact, Oregon had been held scoreless in only five quarters all season, and yet Auburn’s oft-maligned defense kept the Ducks from scoring a point in both the first and third quarters on Monday.

Key decision

Oregon coach Chip Kelly dipped into his bag of tricks after Auburn seemingly forced the Ducks to punt at the Oregon 43. Kelly dialed up a fake punt, where punter Jackson Rice hit Marvin Johnson for an 11-yard gain that gave the Ducks a first down at the Auburn 46. Oregon eventually drove all the way to Auburn’s goal line before the defense held.

What happened

The two offenses failed to generate much in the way of scoring in the third quarter, with Auburn’s defense denying the Ducks on the goal line and Auburn scoring only once -- on a 28-yard Wes Byrum field goal. Auburn tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen set up Byrum’s kick with a 39-yard catch that gave the Tigers a first down at Oregon’s 16. The drive stalled at the 11, forcing Auburn to settle for three. The Tigers moved to the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead and a prime opportunity for their first national championship in 53 years only one period away.

— David Ching

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