BCS Championship Game: ESPN and the Over


Finally, Auburn and Oregon will square off in the BCS championship game Monday night with the Tigers favored by 2.5 points over the Ducks.

Pitting two high-powered offenses led by Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Oregon’s star running back LaMichael James, the over is 74 and that could fall in what should be a back-and-forth affair that will crown the best team in the land this side of the TCU Horned Frogs — this year’s undefeated, non-qualifying conference representative getting stiffed from a chance to battle for the still mythical title on the gridiron.

A high-scoring and/or competitive Tigers/Ducks contest should easily push ESPN past its over: 21.8 million. That’s how many people watched Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings battle his old club the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 5, 2009 in scoring the biggest audience in cable history.

ESPN, in its first year of BCS play and airing the Rose Bowl, saw the Horned Frogs’ 21-19 win over Big Ten co-titlist Wisconsin tackle 20.6 million in the late afternoon/early evening window on New Year’s Day. That was the worldwide leader’s best-ever college contest and third biggest audience to date.

Auburn-Oregon should fly past the granddaddy of them all and take down Minny-Green Bay and its No. 2 telecast, the 21.4 million for the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots on Nov. 30, 2009, in the process.

Could this intriguing matchup surpass last year’ title tilt between college blue bloods Alabama and Texas, which saw the Tide roll past the Longhorns, 37-21, and score with 30.8 million on ABC?

Unlikely, but ESPN should rewrite cable history when Nielsen tallies the numbers on Tuesday.