For all intents and purposes the BCS Championship Game has become a game involving the winner of the SEC versus the best team from the rest of the nation. For the fifth straight year the BCS Championship Game includes an SEC team. The last Pac-10 team to play for the title was USC in 2005. This game is among the most anticipated championship games in recent memory. It has a Heisman Trophy winner, two prolific offenses, and the best running back and defensive tackle in the country. It also has a villain. The pay for play controversy surrounding Cam Newton has painted Auburn in a negative light throughout the nation, rightly or not. That Auburn is a member of the SEC, whose fans have been as arrogant as the conference has been dominant in recent years, means that the rest of the country will probably be rooting for Oregon. Neither of these teams is conventional. Both win with offense not defense. Neither seems to care much about time of possession. Neither seem to care what anyone else thinks. Conventionally both are extremely disciplined and play with great emotion and a killer instinct. This should make for a great game that is close in the late going.
3 Keys from the scouts for Oregon
1 Come out firing. Usually timing offenses like Oregon’s are the most affected by the long lay off between the regular season and the bowl game. Oregon, however, might be different by simply being better than the great offenses of recent years. Auburn is one of the few teams Oregon will have faced this season that can match them score for score, and like Auburn, Oregon has a tendency to start out slowly before picking up steam and blowing games open late. The Ducks will put themselves in a much better position to withstand any late game momentum that seems to always favor Auburn.
2.Win the kicking game. The single biggest mismatch in this game will be when Auburn punts. Oregon leads the nation with five returned punts for touchdowns and averages over 18 yards per return. Auburn is dead last in the SEC and 108th nationally. If the Ducks can set themselves up with shorter fields, or even get some points on a return, then Auburn will be under even more pressure. The Ducks must exploit this math as the two teams are very similar in most other areas.
3.Get LaMichael James in open space. Oregon is known as the better team while Auburn is considered the more talented team. LaMichael James shatters that perception by being every bit as electrifying as Newton, only at running back. Small and shifty James will have a hard time against the center of Auburn’s attacking front seven. In space, however, James can maximize his speed and shiftiness and force Auburn’s defensive backs and linebackers to not miss tackles, an area they have struggled with all season.
3 Keys from the scouts for Auburn
1. Physically dominate the lines of scrimmage. Oregon has benefited from very solid play along both lines all year. In this game their offensive line will be facing a more physical defensive front seven then they are used to seeing, with apologies to Stanford. Nick Fairly has not been stopped all season despite being a focal point in their opponents game planning. Auburn likes to make plays in the backfield and doing so will severely limit the effectiveness of the Ducks rushing attack. Auburn’s offensive line is arguably the best in the country and at 24 pounds heavier than Oregon’s defensive line (on average) has the potential to take the game away from the Ducks early. All season Mike Aliotti has relied on rotating his players every three snaps in order to keep them fresh. That won’t be an option against Auburn’s fast paced offense. If the Tigers can impose their will early enough to run their power game effectively in the second half and force Oregon to be one dimensional offensively it could make for a long hard night for Chip Kelly and company.
2. Control the clock. Both Auburn and Oregon are capable of the quick score. Neither really cares much about time of possession but in this game Auburn probably should. Certainly not at the expense of offensive production, but Auburn and Oregon are both second half teams and winning the 4th quarter will likely dictate who wins the game. Being the more physical of the two teams Auburn should try to wear down Oregon, the deeper team, in hopes of gaining an edge late in the game.
3. Don’t turn the ball over. Oregon is 3rd nationally with 35 turnovers forced, a big reason their scoring offense is as good as it is. Aside from the obvious lost scoring opportunities turnovers will give the Ducks more possessions, shorter fields to work with, and momentum. With an offense as potent as Oregon those things are killers. It also has the added benefit of keeping the Ducks defense off the field making it harder for Auburn to wear them down.
Bold Prediction: Honestly if either of these teams play flat they are risking a blow out loss. Oregon is likely prepared for the start of this game and I expect them to come out hot. Auburn might start a little slower, like they usually do, but will eventually settle down. By the middle of the third quarter, assuming both teams are playing well, I would expect Auburn to be in better shape given their more physical style of football and start to grind Oregon down. This game should be close into the 4th quarter but I expect Auburn’s defense to make a critical stop and Auburn to pull away winning by two scores. Auburn 41 Oregon 31
|2nd||LaMichael James||RB||21||3So||Explosive, elusive ball carrier that breaks games open with his home run hitting speed. More of a situational runner versus a feature back.|
|3rd||Carson York||G||77||3So||Terrific line prospect that blocks with great fundamentals. Has a high upside.|
|5th||Jeff Maehl||WR||23||4Sr||Reliable hand catcher that projects as a fourth receiver on the NFL level.|
|5th||Casey Matthews||ILB||55||5Sr||Smart, tough linebacker with good blood lines. Lacks the great physical skills to be a starter in the NFL.|
|5-6||David Paulson||TE||42||4Jr||Developing pass catcher at tight end that proves himself to be a downfield threat.|
|7-FA||Eddie Pleasant||S||11||4Jr||Stout, run defending safety best in the box.|
|FA||Spencer Paysinger||OLB||35||5Sr||Solid, one-gap linebacker who can play over the tight end and covers a great amount of area on the field. Good speed and skill in pursuit. Never improved from a terrific sophomore campaign.|
|FA||Javes Lewis||S||14||4Jr||Physically talented safety in the midst of a disappointing season.|
|FA||Brandon Bair||DE||88||5Sr||Opinions run wide for Bair. Some think he’s a third round choice while others, such as ourselves, feel he’s very limited. No one can question his competitiveness.|
|FA||Talmadge Jackson III||CB||37||4Sr|
|1st||Nick Fairley||DE||90||4Jr||Explosive lineman that can be used at tackle in a conventional four man line or as a two-gap end. Has a great amount of athleticism and upside.|
|2nd||Cam Newton||QB||2||4Jr||Tim Tebow on steroids, figuratively speaking of course. Amazing athlete yet green as grass as an NFL quarterback prospect.|
|3rd||Lee Ziemba||T||71||5Sr||Workman like college tackle that gets the most from his abilities.|
|5th||Craig Stevens||OLB||46||4Sr||Solid playmaking linebacker who shows a lot of athleticism and awareness on the field. Potential rush linebacker in a 3-4.|
|6th||Mario Fannin||RB||27||5Sr||Gifted running back that showed a complete game not long ago.. Outstanding pass catcher that gets downfield as a receiving threat. Never took his game to the next level.|
|7th||Ryan Pugh||C||50||4Sr||Multi-purpose blocker best on the pivot. Quick in all aspects of his game, effective in motion and makes great use of blocking angles. Not dominant but has potential.|
|FA||Darvin Adams||WR||89||3Jr||Home run hitting receiver that makes a lot of plays downfield.|
|FA||Zac Etheridge||S||4||4Sr||Solid all around safety that has struggled with injury.|
Game Preview: Brent Foshee
Prospect Preview: Tony Pauline