To the chagrin of just about everybody in Florida, the Auburn Tigers defeated the Oregon Ducks last night 22-19 to capture the NCAA national championship.
The "experts" might say that Auburn outlasted Oregon thanks to its solid running game and red-zone defense. They might even have "statistics" to back it up.
But Riptide has its own stats to break down why Auburn won the trophy last night: 13-1. That's the number of Florida recruits on the Auburn roster (13) versus Oregon's roster (1). And none made a bigger difference than SoFla's own Wes Byrum.
Byrum, from Ft. Lauderdale, kicked the game-winning 19-yard field goal as time expired. The St. Thomas Aquinas grad had already extended Auburn's lead earlier in the second half with a 28-yard try. It was his sixth game-winning field goal of his
Hurricane Gator Seminole Tiger career.
Everyone here in Miami already knows how important a single field goal can be, yet ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, nonetheless, resorted to the whole kickers-are-pussies argument in the lead up to the big moment.
"The kickers are usually inside in the air conditioning playing video games," he said. Um... yeah. Thanks Kirk. Don't worry. We already know you weren't a kicker.
Twelve other Tigers helped Auburn outlast Oregon on Monday night. The Ducks boasted but one lonely Floridian on their loser-filled sideline. We're pretty sure he wasn't born here, anyways. So that doesn't really count.
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Needless to say, new UM coach Al Golden has a lot of work to do to keep Florida's talent from escaping state boundaries.
Auburn also had preparation on their side. Its website posted a "National Champions" logo just minutes after the win.