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College Football Analysis: Auburn, Oregon, Stanford and More

The Auburn Tigers are National Champs and what a season it's been. The Tigers come away with their first national title since 1957, capping a remarkable season that also saw Cam Newton win the Heisman Trophy. (Don't worry, more on the Tigers' national title can be found below.) The year is perhaps best defined by the controversy surrounding non-AQ schools' inclusion in not only the BCS National Championship Game, but any BCS bowl game. TCU helped answer a lot of those questions and silenced a lot of critics with a well-deserved victory in the Rose Bowl last Saturday. It is going to be intriguing as we move forward to see if or how this year's controversy eventually shapes the landscape of college football. Have the non-AQs opened a few eyes to the game's unjust system that doesn't allow a level playing field for all teams, or will the powers that be continue their dominion over the game.

Thank you to everybody that has stopped by on Monday mornings, or Tuesday in this case, to check out what went down and what to take away from the last week in college football. The season may be over, but 500 Words or Less is not. Check back this spring and summer for your daily dose of college football as we transition into covering the NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft, as well as offseason practices and the latest college football news and tidbits.

Recapping in 500 words or less, this is what we learned about the season:

  • The Stanford Cardinal proved that they're one of the nation's best teams with a decisive Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech. Senior tight end Coby Fleener came away with a big game, hauling in six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Stepfan Taylor and Jeremy Stewart had big nights on the ground, proving the versatility of the Cardinal offense. One of the biggest 2011 storylines will be how Stanford responds coming off a 12-win campaign without Jim Harbaugh, the man who helped turn the program around, but with Andrew Luck returning.
  • How much does ESPN own the bowl season? So much so that they seemed to commandeer Luck as he was talking to another reporter or group of reporters after the game. Just my take on it, of course, as I do not know exactly what Luck was doing when he was grabbed. ESPN also had the audacity to ask both Harbaugh and Luck their future plans during the trophy presentation when the moment should have focused on the Stanford Cardinal, not two members of the program.
  • Define the Sugar Bowl by a few key items: Arkansas' dropped passes, Ohio State's injury woes, the Buckeyes defense's ability to hold Arkansas to field goals instead of touchdowns, a blocked punt and Ryan Mallett not seeing Solomon Thomas drop into coverage with about a minute left. Arkansas was in position to win the game despite several dropped passes, including one on the opening offensive possession that would have likely went for a score, but Mallett threw a pick to allow Ohio State to seal its first BCS win over an SEC opponent.
  • If Jordan Jefferson plays as well as he played in the Cotton Bowl, does LSU lose a game all season? Hard to speculate, but there's a good chance that the Tigers would at the very least have replaced Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. LSU rebounded from several big plays from Texas A&M to climb out of a 10-0 deficit. Terrence Toliver finished with 112 yards and caught all three of Jefferson's touchdown passes. Jefferson passed for just 158 yards, but it was the fact that LSU was finally a threat through the air that was so important.
  • Lost in the TCU/Boise State non-AQ hoopla this year was a very good season from Nevada, who finishes the year 13-1 and with one of the nation's top offenses. Senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick finishes the year with 1,184 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns and 2,830 yards passing with 20 touchdowns.
  • My skin crawls when I see the BCS brass presenting the Coaches' Trophy, but congratulations to Auburn! A relatively slow game through 57 and a half minutes turned into one helluva football game as Oregon scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the game. A couple Michael Dyer runs later, and the Tigers are in position to win the national title. What a way to cap a fantastic season for the Tigers.

This week's New Household Name has to be Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov. Skov was a monster on the Cardinal defense in the Orange Bowl, coming away with 12 tackles (five tackles for loss) and three sacks. Despite missing the first two games of the season, Skov was the Cardinal's leading tackler and has flown relatively under the radar this year despite an extraordinary campaign. Skov's performance in the Orange Bowl was so impressive that head coach Jim Harbaugh grabbed him during his postgame interview with ESPN and told the on-field reporter to interview Skov. Unfortunately, ESPN seemed too caught up in chasing down Luck so they could grill him on his future at the university that Skov was asked only a couple of half-hearted questions and given a bit of a snub before the on-field team set out to find Luck. A bit of a weak moment for the Worldwide Leader.

This week, Terrelle Pryor Proved He's Worth the Hype in Ohio State's dramatic win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Pryor finished the game 14 for 25 for 221 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but also finished with 115 yards on 15 carries on the ground. Pryor's stats were arguably better than those against Oregon in last year's Rose Bowl, for which he was given tremendous praise. He won't take the field again for the Buckeyes until October, but if Ohio State is able to pull out four or five wins before Pryor, Dan 'Boom' Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas return against Nebraska on October 8, Ohio State will be in excellent position to make a Big Ten title run. Pryor and the other four suspended players will miss home games against Akron, Toledo, Colorado and Michigan State, as well as a trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes.- Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

You may email Danny directly at or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock

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