Honestly, plenty of other writers out there could give you a more detailed breakdown of Oregon and Auburn, two teams that aren’t exactly in my wheel house.
I feel obligated to offer my two cents, though, this being a college football blog and all.
To me, this matchup of two of college football’s not quite blue bloods really isn’t all that complicated. This nouveau riche showdown for all the marbles will come down to…
The Ducks make up for a lack of size on D by attacking ball carriers and gambling on passing routes. As a result, the Oregon defense has generated an average of 3 turnovers per game this season, highest in the country.
On the other hand, Auburn is one of the best when it comes to protecting the ball. The Tigers gave up the rock just 15 times in 13 games, one of the best rates in the country.
2. Strength in Numbers
Looking back on this season, the two opponents that had the best success slowing down the Auburn offense, Mississippi State and Alabama, have big dudes all over the front seven.
That lack of beef that I mentioned on the Oregon D? UO has all of three starters as big as Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton. Not to mention, he operates behind a seasoned offensive line featuring five starters who tip the scales at at least 300 lbs.
From a sheer size standpoint, this has the makings as a physical mismatch. More than ever, Oregon’s defenders will have to focus on flying to the football and gang tackling Newton and freshman running back Michael Dyer, he of the tree trunk legs.
3. Fending Off Fairley
For all the talk about coaching and fan interest and speed, talent on the defensive line truly sets the Southeastern Conference apart. The SEC annually churns out the biggest, baddest dudes up front, enabling their defenses to wreak havoc in opposing backfields.
This year, Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is the baddest of all. He’s joined by talented Antoine Carter, giving the Tigers a formidable one-two punch on the line.
Oregon has seen some quality defensive lines this year. However, Fairley and Co. will be the best.
The SEC dominance theme has nauseated college football fans south of the Mason-Dixon Line and west of the Mississippi River for four long years now. As annoying as the chants of “S-E-C!” may be, the conference’s partisans have plenty of reason to strut – opponents from the Big 12 and Big Ten have had trouble staying within single digits of SEC teams in national championship games.
Oregon may have the best shot in the last five seasons of ending the SEC’s reign of terror.
Auburn’s defense is better than the stats say, but it still falls short of the last four to represent the SEC in the national championship game. The Ducks’ dynamic offense has a clear advantage to past SEC opponents in that regard.
Plus, I’ll take Oregon’s coaches any day over Gene Chizik and his staff.
The problem is that the Tigers are still the more talented and bigger team. Even with a great, fast-paced offensive attack that may be able to wear down the AU defense and match Newton strike for strike, the Ducks are facing a physical contest the likes of which they have yet to experience this season.
I’ll take the rougher, tougher team. It really is that simple.
S-E-… Oh, shut up already.