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A fresh look for title game

EUGENE, Ore. — A season spent talking about BCS busters will end with another clash of the big boys, just not the ones we're used to seeing in the title game.

Alabama and Texas? Florida and Oklahoma? Ohio State? USC?

Not this year.

BCS title game first-timers Auburn and Oregon will bring perfect records and potent offenses to Glendale, Ariz., for their Jan. 10 matchup.

That was made official Sunday night, a formality after the top-ranked Tigers and No. 2 Ducks completed unbeaten seasons.

Oregon players gathered with friends and family in a lounge at the athletic complex on campus to watch as the BCS lineup was revealed on television. There wasn't a peep in the room when Oregon popped up on the screen at No. 2 in the final BCS standings behind first-place Auburn. It was typical Ducks: all business.

"There was no surprise to anybody that we were going to be one or two," defensive tackle Brandon Bair said. "I think you'd have had a great response if you'd seen us down there four or five."

Across the country, Auburn linebacker Craig Stevens had trouble putting his emotions into words. "It's just an amazing feeling," he said. "We've put in all that hard work (to) see our dreams unfold."

Third-ranked TCU, the nation's only other undefeated team, couldn't overcome playing in the lightly regarded Mountain West and will have to settle for a trip to the Rose Bowl against Big Ten co-champion Wisconsin. Another underdog, Boise State, was left out of the BCS altogether.

The other BCS matchups were: Arkansas and Ohio State, which also won a share of the Big Ten title, in the Sugar Bowl; Big 12 champion Oklahoma taking on Big East co-champ Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl; and No.  5 Stanford playing ACC champ Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

While teams from the power conferences will play for the biggest prize, the Tigers and Ducks still represent a changing of the guard. The BCS title game has almost always pitted programs with championship pedigrees.

Auburn has one national title to its credit, and it came in 1957. That's one more than Oregon, which is the second team in the BCS's 13-year history to reach the championship game looking for its first national title. Virginia Tech was the first in 1999.

Also, this title game will be the second, not including the inaugural one in 1998, with two teams that have never been there. The other was in 2001 with Nebraska and Miami, not exactly upstarts.

Another first: Never before have teams that started the season outside the AP top 10 played for the BCS title. The Ducks opened 11th and the Tigers 22nd.

A fresh look for title game 12/05/10 [Last modified: Sunday, December 5, 2010 11:04pm]
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