4:00 PM ET, December 4, 2010
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Cam Newton's 6-TD day leads Auburn to SEC championship and BCS title game
ATLANTA -- Cameron Newton still seems a little dazed by it all, how a guy who was playing at a junior college in Texas just a season ago has the Heisman Trophy in his grasp, his team just one win away from the national championship.
With his best performance yet in a week when the NCAA pronounced him good to go, Newton accounted for six touchdowns in the Southeastern Conference championship game to lead Auburn (No. 1 BCS, No. 2 AP) to a 56-17 rout of South Carolina (No. 19 BCS, No. 18 AP) on Saturday.
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Auburn put on a second-half showcase to put away South Carolina, scoring 28 points to close the game, writes ESPN.com's Chris Low. Blog
"It's not even sunk in," said Newton, who threw for a career-best 335 yards and four touchdowns, plus ran for a pair of scores. "I've just been living the dream."
An even bigger game looms on Jan. 10.
Auburn, which came into the day leading the Bowl Championship Series standings, wrapped up its spot in the title game against Oregon (No. 2 BCS, No. 1 AP), which secured a trip to Glendale, Ariz., with a 37-20 victory over Oregon State.
The Ducks will be facing a player that Auburn coach Gene Chizik calls the best he's ever seen at the college level. That includes Vince Young, who was at Texas when Chizik was the Longhorns' defensive coordinator.
"When you look at the 13-game span, I've never seen anything like it," Chizik said. "It's running the ball. It's throwing the ball. Usually great quarterbacks do one or the other better. What God has blessed Cameron with is the ability to be really, really good at both."
He'll certainly get no argument from coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks, who gave Auburn a tough game in the opening month of the season but never had a chance in this one.
Auburn set the record for most points in an SEC title game. Two of the next three highest scores went on to win the national title.
|Auburn (2010)||56||S. Carolina|
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"You can't tackle him," Spurrier said after being denied his seventh SEC title. "He's almost a one-man show but those guys really help and their receivers are really good. With that offensive line and him, it's hard to stop him."
The wins by Oregon and Auburn denied another team with a perfect record, TCU, a shot at becoming the first school from a non-BCS conference to play for the title.
Before the national title is decided, Newton will likely be picking up the college game's top individual honor when the Heisman Trophy is awarded next weekend in New York City -- especially after the NCAA cleared him of any wrongdoing in a pay-for-play recruiting scandal involving his father.
Hard to imagine the Heisman vote even being close after the 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior followed Tim Tebow as only the second player in the history of football's top division to both run and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season. He slipped away from defenders with his surprising quickness, buying extra time to throw. He broke tackles with his power, not at all shocking given that he outweighed all three of South Carolina's starting linebackers by at least 25 pounds.
Or he just ran right over 'em.
Newton guided the Tigers (13-0) to touchdowns on their first three possessions, though South Carolina (9-4) was in the game as halftime approached. Trailing only 21-14, the Gamecocks simply had to knock down Newton's last-gasp heave on the final play before the break.
They couldn't even do that.
Out Of Pocket
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton found great success in Saturday's SEC title game when forced to throw outside of the pocket.
|1st 12 Gms||SEC Champ|
|Yds per att||7.1||16.6|
Newton launched one up and 6-foot-2 DeVonte Holloman, standing in front of Terrell Zachery, leaped to tip it away. But the deflected ball went right to Darvin Adams for an improbable 51-yard touchdown that changed the complexion of the game. After South Carolina missed a field goal on the first possession of the second half, it was all Tigers.
"That was huge momentum swing right before the half," Chizik said.
Maybe there's a bit of karma in how things worked out.
While many will surely consider any title to be tainted because of Newton's father seeking illegal payments during the recruiting process, the Tigers can counter that this makes up for the 2004 season.
Auburn went 13-0 that year but didn't get a chance to even play for the national title. Instead, USC and Oklahoma met in the Orange Bowl, with the Trojans winning in a 55-19 romp.
This game was nearly as lopsided. In the second half, Newton ran right over Antonio Allen on a 1-yard touchdown, sending the linebacker tumbling onto his back to make it 35-14. The Auburn star finished his day with a nifty little 7-yard scoring pass to Emory Blake in the right corner of the end zone for a 49-14 lead.
Well, there was one more snap to take.
• Cam Newton threw for four touchdowns and ran for another two. His six touchdowns tied the SEC Championship Game record set by Florida's Danny Wuerffel in 1996.
• With his two rushing TDs, Newton joined Colin Kaepernick and former teammate Tim Tebow as the only players in FBS history with 20 passing and 20 rushing TDs in a single season.
• Auburn's 56 points is the most in an SEC title game and the 39-point margin of victory is the largest in the history of the game.
• The Tigers completed their second perfect regular season in the last seven seasons and tied a school record with 13 wins (2004).
• South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier fell to 5-3 in the SEC title games.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Newton was sent out only so he could come right back off to a fitting ovation for the Auburn side of the Georgia Dome. He waved his arms, pumped his fists and was wrapped up in a big hug from Chizik when he got to the sideline. Then he yucked it up with 1985 Heisman winner Bo Jackson, who watched the game standing on the Tigers bench.
"Heisman! Heisman! Heisman!" the orange-clad fans roared.
Newton spoke with the media for the first time in nearly a month, but he refused to take questions about the allegations that threatened to wreck his glorious ride. The NCAA ruled that his father, Cecil Newton, concocted a payment scheme for his son to sign with Mississippi State, but also ruled that neither Cam nor Auburn knew anything about it.
"I've done nothing wrong," Newton said, reading from a statement. "I will only answer questions about football and this game. I ask that you respect that."
Newton won the SEC title in his hometown of Atlanta and just one year removed from Blinn Junior College in Texas, where he spent last season after beginning his college career at Florida as a little-used backup behind Tebow.
Boy, the Gators would sure like to have Newton now.
Auburn will give the SEC a chance to add to its already unprecedented streak of four straight national titles, which began with Florida in 2006 and was carried on by LSU, Florida again and Alabama last season.
Spurrier was denied another SEC title. The offensive mastermind who led Florida to a half-dozen championships in his 12 years at the Swamp was a flabbergasted, visor-throwing mess on the sideline. His Gamecocks -- possibly headed to the Outback Bowl -- were blown out by an Auburn team that had struggled to beat the Gamecocks in the opening month of the season.
In fact, the Tigers have played from behind much of the year, overcoming double-digit deficits four times -- most notably, rallying from 24 points down against Alabama -- and smaller margins in four other wins.
The drama was lacking in this one. It became a full-fledged rout when the defense took aim at South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, whose attempt at flipping away a screen pass under heavy pressure wound up right in the arms of cornerback T'Sharvan Bell, who returned it 10 yards for a touchdown and a 42-14 lead midway through the third period.
Newton could have some fun. After his final run -- a typical effort in which he faked out one defender and jumped over another -- he flipped the ball to an official and inadvertently knocked off his cap. No problem. Newton scooped it up, put the hat back on his head and, with a big smile, gave the official a pat on the backside.
The Tigers set an SEC championship game record for points and piled up 589 yards. Newton had a hand in 408 of them, breaking his previous best of 317 yards passing against Chattanooga and leading Auburn in rushing with 14 carries for 73 yards. Despite two big drops, Adams set another SEC championship record with 217 yards on seven receptions.
After picking up his MVP award, Newton headed off on a familiar victory lap. He ran all the way to the opposite end of the Georgia Dome, slapping hands with the Auburn fans gathered along the railing.
Now, it's on to the Big Apple, and then to the Arizona desert.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Cam Newton hit Darvin Adams on a Hail Mary to give Auburn a 28-14 halftime lead.
Gameball goes to... Newton. Auburn's do-everything QB passed for 335 yards and accounted for six scores.
Stat of the game... 69. Newton's 49 total touchdowns are more than 69 other FBS teams.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-12||5-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|TD||13:20||Onterio McCalebb 12 Yd Pass From Cameron Newton (Wes Byrum Kick)||7||0|
|TD||09:53||Patrick DiMarco 25 Yd Pass From Stephen Garcia (Spencer Lanning Kick)||7||7|
|TD||05:31||Cameron Newton 5 Yd Run (Wes Byrum Kick)||14||7|
|TD||02:09||Darvin Adams 54 Yd Pass From Cameron Newton (Wes Byrum Kick)||21||7|
|TD||00:16||Alshon Jeffery 1 Yd Pass From Stephen Garcia (Spencer Lanning Kick)||21||14|
|TD||00:00||Darvin Adams 51 Yd Pass From Cameron Newton (Wes Byrum Kick)||28||14|
|TD||07:56||Cameron Newton 1 Yd Run (Wes Byrum Kick)||35||14|
|TD||07:23||T'Sharvan Bell 10 Yd Interception Return (Wes Byrum Kick)||42||14|
|TD||11:14||Emory Blake 7 Yd Pass From Cameron Newton (Wes Byrum Kick)||49||14|
|FG||07:48||Spencer Lanning 33 Yd||49||17|
|TD||02:22||Mario Fannin 6 Yd Run (Wes Byrum Kick)||56||17|
A lot of people considered Tim Tebow's 2007 season one of the best ever. He was the 1st sophomore to win the Heisman trophy and won the award despite his team losing 3 regular season games. Cam Newton is this season's Heisman favorite and his 2010 measures up favorably with Tebow's from 3 years ago. He also joined Tebow as the only FBS players with 20 rush and 20 pass TD in the same season.[+]
2007 Tim Tebow vs 2010 Cam Newton - Through 13 Games
Auburn had two offensive touchdowns of 30 yards or more in the SEC Championship Game. This puts the Tigers' season total to 25, which leads FBS.
Cam Newton entered the week with 27 rushes of 15+ yards, which ranked first in FBS. Newton had two more on Saturday and his numbers compare favorably to some past Heisman contenders from the SEC.[+]
Rushes of 15+ Yards
After struggling to hit downfield throws in Auburn's first eight games of the season, Cam Newton has been on fire. In the Iron Bowl and the SEC Championship, Cam Newton was a combined 7-of-11, including four touchdowns on throws of 20 yards or more.[+]
Cam Newton on Throws of 20+ Yards
Entering Saturday, Cam Newton had only attempted 29 passes this season outside of the pocket. In the first half of the SEC Championship Game, Newton completed 7-of-8 passes outside of the pocket, including 2 touchdowns.[+]
Cam Newton Passing Outside the Pocket
Colin Kaepernick also joined Newton and Tebow tonight as the only players in FBS history with 20 rush TD and 20 pass TD in a season. He had 3 rushing TD vs Louisiana Tech, bringing his season total to 20 (and already had 20 pass TD). ------------------------------------------------------- Cam Newton finished the SEC Championship game with 4 pass TD and 2 rush TD. He now has 28 pass TD and 20 rush TD this season. He joins Tim Tebow as the only players in FBS history with 20 rush TD and 20 pass TD in a single season.
Auburn's 39-pt victory over South Carolina is the largest in the history of the SEC Championship Game (since 1992)[+]
Largest Margin of Victory - SEC Championship Game History
Auburn vs South Carolina is the 6th regular-season rematch to take place in the SEC title game. The team that has won the 1st game has won the title game 5 of the 6 times.[+]
Rematches in SEC Championship Game - Since 1992 (1st Year of Champ Game)
Auburn has set the record for most points in an SEC title game. Two of the next three highest scores (by '96 Florida and '06 Florida) went on to win the national title.[+]
Most Points - SEC Championship Game History
Cam Newton: 2-for-2, 74 yards, TD on opening drive He is now 19-19 for for 300 yards and 3 TD on opening drives in 2010 He has also caught a 20-yard touchdown and run for three other scores.
7th game this season (4th consecutive) with a rushing and passing TD in same game for Cam Newton
ESPN Stats & Information