Auburn, Oregon Meet In BCS Championship Game

Tickets are hard to get for Monday night's BCS championship game between the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks. Oregon has never won the national championship. Auburn last won it in 1957.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's a big night for college football and the last night of the season. The regular season ended a month ago. And finally, Auburn and Oregon play in the championship game.

NPR's Tom Goldman is with us from Scottsdale, Arizona, near the site of the game which will be played in Glendale.

Hi, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Steve. How are you?

INSKEEP: I'm doing okay. Thanks. Let's just review here. This is the correct me if I'm wrong is it the 88th or 89th bowl game of the season, but this is the one for the title?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: I thought it was in triple figures. But, yeah, it is the biggie.

INSKEEP: And so, how good is this match-up going to be?

GOLDMAN: Super good, Steve, if I can say that. There is a huge demand for tickets. Get this: I know a guy who put four tickets up for sale online, as a joke, for $80,000. And he got a call from someone who was interested. But then he said no, because he found four for $48,000.

It's crazy money being tossed around, prices for individual tickets reportedly as high as $15,000.

Another indication of the madness: The judicial system in Alabama, where Auburn is located, is delaying cases so people can watch the game. And an indicted casino owner, charged with bribing Alabama politicians, he got a 72-hour pass to come to Arizona to watch the game.

INSKEEP: Well, you know, if you've already got your tickets...

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: ...you've got to be able to use them. The judge is going to be sympathetic.

GOLDMAN: That's right, even if you're indicted. Exactly.

INSKEEP: Now, Auburn has not won a national title in more than 50 years. Oregon has not won. What makes this game so special?

GOLDMAN: Well, just that. These guys are a couple of fresh faces on the mega stage. Neither has played in the BCS championship games since it went to this number one-versus-number-two format in 1998. They are both undefeated, with explosives offenses. Oregon scores over 49 points a game. Auburn scores about 43 points a game.

They have exciting individual players. We've all hear of Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Six-six, 250, he's bigger than most Oregon defenders. And, you know, of course, there's curiosity factor about Newton and the scandal that dogged him all season, when the NCAA ruled he's eligible to play tonight because the NCAA said he didn't know his dad was shopping him around when Cam was being recruited at Mississippi State.

Some don't believe he didn't know mostly Oregon fans, and they wish he wasn't eligible for the game.

INSKEEP: I guess you're one of those Oregon fans.

GOLDMAN: Well, busted. Okay?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: I'm an Oregon alum, Steve.

INSKEEP: Right.

GOLDMAN: I will have you know, however, that I am not letting that affect my job. In fact, a Duck fan who's a friend, he berated me for not accepting a quacker that's a kazoo in the shape of a duckbill that makes quacking noise. And I won't make that now. He said I should have one in the press box. I told him I have my ethics.

INSKEEP: But now, what about Auburn? I mean, I assume you're going to pay attention to the other team, here. What has really made them so successful?

GOLDMAN: Well, Cam Newton has made them successful, and they've got a great defense, a great defensive line headed by defensive tackle named Nick Fairley. He's an All-American. A very good team, but you've got to put squarely on the shoulders of Cam Newton. They wouldn't be the same team without him.

INSKEEP: So how will the Ducks compete?

GOLDMAN: Well, they're not going to stop Newton. What they would like to do is pressure him with their defensive line. Oregon doesn't want him to get comfortable and set up his ability to pass or pick out running lanes. And that's a big challenge for Oregon, because Auburn has a massive offensive line. The players average 304 pounds. It's hard to push them around.

INSKEEP: Okay, so Auburn's got some big guys. But Oregon's has got the quackers. You blow the quackers at them a couple times, and they'll have nothing left.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it'll make them fall over - either that, or the Ducks' speed, because the Ducks have this hurry-up offense that leaves opponents gassed. They're the fastest team in the nation. And Auburn just is going to try and prevent them from running passed them.

INSKEEP: Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman, covering tonight's national championship college football game.

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