The Auburn quarterback had just rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns in leading the fifth-ranked Tigers to a grueling 24-17 win against No. 6 LSU that wasn’t sealed until the final minutes.
Instead, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound redshirt junior was as elusive as he’d been all day, chalking up his fifth game of 170 or more rushing yards. He celebrated by running to the north end zone and jumping atop a brick wall, where he screamed in exhilaration.
There, he blew a kiss to his adoring fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium and gave them a salute as a Tigers supporter waved a Superman T-shirt at him.
He then ran back to the field and bobbed his head as the song “All I Do Is Win” played over the stadium’s loudspeakers. He raised his hand to make the No. 1 gesture before doing a quick television interview.
Newton then took off at full speed and made perhaps his most impressive move all day — hurdling a 3-foot fence to celebrate with the frenzied student section on the stadium’s east side.
He then jumped atop the south end zone’s brick wall, where he slapped high-fives with fans and again started blowing kisses as the crowd chanted, “Heis-man, Heis-man, Heis-man” and a coed waved a sign that read, “Who Can? Cam Can!”
Newton’s dizzying celebration showed why LSU’s physical defense had struggled to keep up with him all night. All that was missing was him taking a bow, because even without a cape, he’s become a superhero who has Auburn in the thick of the national title race and himself in contention for the Heisman Trophy.
“He’s a great player, about the best in the country,” LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said. “Plain and simple, he’s the best quarterback in the country.”
Newton’s around-the-stadium celebration was reminiscent of that of his former teammate, Tim Tebow. Newton played with Tebow at Florida before being arrested for purchasing a stolen computer, leaving for a junior college in Texas, then transferring to Auburn.
“The adrenaline was still pumping,” Newton said of his celebration.
It also was pumping after Auburn tailback Onterio McCalebb’s game-winning 70-yard touchdown run with 5:05 left in the game. Following the score, Cameron’s chest bump knocked the 5-foot-10, 171-pound McCalebb to the ground.
Not that it bothered McCalebb.
“Everything Cam do,” McCalebb said, “everybody get happy over.”
But with Auburn (8-0, 5-0 SEC) racking up 440 rushing yards against an LSU defense that had surrendered an average of just 83.6 rushing yards per game, McCalebb and others tried to dispel the notion that their team is just Newton.
“It ain’t about no one-man team,” McCalebb said.
That’s an optimistic thought, but Auburn will go only as far as Newton can lead. With his team’s suspect defense and special teams, he’s going to need a lot more moments like his breathtaking 49-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that’s already being mentioned as his Heisman moment.
During it, five LSU defenders failed to tackle Newton, who dragged Tigers All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson for the last eight yards. While replay officials reviewed the play to make sure he had scored, LSU’s players gave him his due.
“He’s for real,” Auburn center Ryan Pugh recalled them saying.
Asked if he had seen his highlight touchdown run, Newton quipped, “Do you have it for me?” before describing it as “a simple play.”
“It’s just a play that’s in my job description to make,” Newton said.
But as impressive as Newton has been running the ball this season, he’d better get ready to throw more. He was 10 of 16 passing for just 80 yards on Saturday against LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC).
Remaining opponents, particularly rival Alabama, which Auburn plays at in its regular-season finale, are sure to try to make him put the ball in the air. Seemingly, innovative Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn knows Newton’s passing limitations.
Newton rarely threw the ball downfield against LSU, instead relying heavily on short passes such as bubble screens. But with Newton’s dynamic playmaking ability, Malzahn hardly seems worried.
“He can make things right when they’re not right,” Malzahn said.
As Newton headed to a door after his postgame press conference Saturday, a reporter shouted to him, “Are you the best player in the country?”
“Wow,” he replied.
Indeed. Just imagine how Newton might celebrate winning the Heisman Trophy or a national championship.