Michael Dyer. Auburn’s star freshman running back had been fairly quiet through the first three quarters, but he had a monster final period. Dyer rushed seven times for 78 yards in the quarter -- finishing the night with 22 carries for 143 yards. It was Dyer who set up Auburn kicker Wes Byrum’s game-winning field goal with one of the most bizarre plays of the night. Dyer seemed to be stopped by Eddie Pleasant for a 5-yard run to the Auburn 45, but Dyer’s knee never touched the ground. He rolled off the would-be tackler, got to his feet and rushed for an additional 32 yards to the Oregon 23. Three plays later, he rushed 16 yards to the Oregon 1 -- a play that was originally ruled a touchdown, but overturned on replay. That set up Byrum’s gimme.
Six. Byrum hadn’t actually made a field goal since the Oct. 30 win against Ole Miss -- he was 0-for-1 in the last four games. But he was a perfect 2-for-2 on Monday, including the game-winning 19-yard kick as time expired. The senior concluded his final game with the sixth game-winning kick of his college career and scored all six of Auburn’s points in the second half.
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Dyer showed good football sense for a freshman when he jumped off Pleasant and realized his knee never touched down. His 37-yard run pushed the Tigers into scoring territory, and was easily one of the most clutch plays of the night as the Tigers claimed the national championship.
With time running out on his season, Oregon coach Chip Kelly took a chance on his offense. Facing fourth-and-5 at the Auburn 40 and four minutes left to play, Kelly called a pass play that resulted in a 29-yard D.J. Davis gain to Auburn’s 11. That set up Darron Thomas’ 2-yard touchdown pass to LaMichael James, followed by a two-point pass to Jeff Maehl that tied the score at 19. But as has happened throughout the Tigers’ title season, quarterback Cam Newton and company proved clutch with the game hanging in the balance. Led by Dyer and Newton, the Tigers drove 73 yards and used up the final 2:23 and Byrum set off pandemonium throughout the stadium with his game-winner as the clock hit zero.
— David Ching