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2011 BCS Champ. Position Breakdown - RBs
Oregon RB LaMichael James
Oregon RB LaMichael James
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 7, 2011


The position-by-position breakdown of the 2011 BCS Championship - Running Backs.

2011 BCS Champ. Breakdown

Auburn vs. Oregon - Running Backs

- CFN 2011 BCS Championship Preview  
- CFN 2009 BCS Championship Breakdown - Florida vs. Oklahoma   
- CFN 2010 BCS Championship Breakdown - Alabama vs. Texas

CFN 2011 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION BREAKDOWN

- Quarterbacks | Running Backs
- Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defensive Lines | Linebackers
- Secondaries | Special Teams | Coaches

By Pete Fiutak

Auburn: Because Cam Newton had such a tremendous year, and because he was the team’s best runner, it’s been lost that Auburn’s biggest strength coming into the season, even after losing Ben Tate to the Houston Texans, was running back. Loaded with an abundance of riches, the Tigers have three backs in freshman Michael Dyer, senior Mario Fannin, and sophomore Onterio McCalebb who’d be the featured superstar just about anywhere else. McCalebb has been able to find his niche in the attack running for 763 yards and nine scores. Even though he’s trying to bulk up, the 5-10, 171-pounder, isn’t going to power over anyone.

But the star that many considered to be the nation’s No. 1 running back recruit in 2009 tore off big runs whenever he got the chance, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Fannin is a 5-11, 228-pound jack-of-all-trades working as a runner and an H-Back. The best of the lot is Dyer, a 5-9, 215-pound wrecking ball who has been an occasional workhorse and a terrific punisher on drives. Easily the best power back in the equation, he’ll be used to chew things up on the inside with the hope that Newton, McCalebb, and Fannin can spring big plays against a beaten up defensive front.

Oregon: Despite missing the opening game of the season serving a suspension for an off-the-field altercation on a domestic violence charge, the Doak Walker winner and the No. 3 man in the Heisman race led the nation in rushing with 1,682 yards. Like a missile coming out of the backfield, he hits the hole with authority, runs with great vision, and can make defenders look silly with his shake-and-bake in the open field. Even at a wispy 5-9 and 185 pounds, he’s tougher than he looks and doesn’t get brought down by arm tacklers. For James, it’s all about the one big opportunity to change the game around. He’ll carry the ball 25 times without slowing down, but many times it’s a few yards here, a few yards there, and just when the defense is getting tired from the Ducks’ up-tempo style, boom. James hits the home run. Held to just 70 yards by Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl, he’ll be looking to make amends.

James might be the best back in America this year, but sophomore Kenjon Barner would’ve put up similar stats with the same opportunities. The 5-11, 180-pound speedster doesn’t have the durability of the inside presence of James, but the one-time cornerback is one of the team’s fastest players. He’s a flash of lightning in the open field averaging 6.5 yards per carry with 133 yards and a score on 15 carries against Oregon State.

ADVANTAGE: Oregon … but barely. Auburn is deeper and has more diversity, but Oregon has James. How important has he been to the program? Oregon has gone 22-3 over the last two seasons with James running for 22 yards on two carries in the loss to Boise State, 70 yards in the loss to Ohio State, and in the team’s two closes calls of the season he was held to 94 yards against Arizona State and 91 yards against Cal. The Ducks are 17-1 when he runs for 100 yards or more and is 12-0 when he scores twice or more. The third-year sophomore has already announced that he’s coming back for another season.

CFN 2011 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION BREAKDOWN

- Quarterbacks | Running Backs
- Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defensive Lines | Linebackers
- Secondaries | Special Teams | Coaches