Fighting tooth and nail in a win over Northwestern on Jan. 1, 2010 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Auburn used that day as the start of a new season with the goal of winning it all. Just before that game the news that junior college quarterback Cameron Newton would be joining the team for spring practice was big, but nobody would have any idea how big until he exploded in Auburn's season opening win over Arkansas State.
With a dynamic quarterback it opened up Gus Malzahn's offense on the ground and left defenses scratching their heads as to how to slow down the Tigers. The explosive Newton along with Onterio McCalebb and the emergence of Michael Dyer gave Malzahn the weapons to control the ball on the ground but at the expense of the passing game early in the year.
In the first eight games of the season Auburn threw for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns, an average of just 183.5 yards per game. After a huge sophomore season junior Darvin Adams was still the main man for the Tigers through the air but had just 452 yards and a pair of scores in the first two/thirds of the season.
His production and that of the offense began to change dramatically following the win over LSU, however, as team's began to load up against the run and Newton made them pay. In the last six games of the season Auburn threw for 1,534 yards and 18 touchdowns, an average of 255.67 yards per contest. Adams accounted for 511 yards and five scores during that time.
In the championship game Adams was just one of several targets that Newton used as both Terrell Zachery and Emory Blake came through as did senior Kodi Burns. That work and development in the passing game paid off in a big way at the end of the year for Auburn and Adams said it's great to finish things off with a national title.
"You really can't put it into words," Adams said. "It just feels like all of our hard work finally paid off. We pulled together as a team when we needed to and pulled off the victory."
Playing in front of what Adams said felt like a home crowd, Auburn once again responded to adversity by driving for the winning field goal with just two and a half minutes left in the game. That was a fitting way to end the season for a team that answered every challenge thrown its way.
"Like Coach Chizik says, he feels like every time we get challenged as a team we always respond," Adams said. "I think we did a great job responding once again."