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Oregon fans insist that Chip Kelly is the best coach in the country.
That may be true, but Gene Chizik is plenty accomplished in his own right.
Chizik has learned from the best. Big names like Bill "Brother" Oliver, Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Monte Kiffin and Tommy Tuberville.
As a result, Chizik was the defensive coordinator whose blitzes, coverage schemes and adjustments led Auburn to a 13-0 record in 2004, Texas to a 13-0 record in 2005 and an upset of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White and the USC Trojans in the '05 National Title game.
That 2005 game on USC's turf demonstrated that Chizik's defenses can win games not just by shutting opponents' down, but by making timely stops and big plays that swing momentum.
Oregon had better not presume that just because they are moving the ball at will against Auburn that they are going to win. Chizik and his defenses have been there before.
Chizik uses NFL-style adjustments that adapt to what the offense is doing. His best attribute is that, during the game, he analyzes what gives his team the best chance to win and implements it—not just at halftime, but in the middle of quarters.
Chizik seldom comes up with anything that his talent is incapable of executing. He doesn't ask his LBs to be Dick Butkus or his DBs to be John Lynch.
And lest you believe that this will merely be a matchup between a top defensive coach in Gene Chizik and an innovative offensive coach in Chip Kelly. There is a wild card—Gus Malzahn.
Malzahn was a legendary high school coach in Arkansas and basically saved Houston Nutt's career by creating the much-emulated Wildcat Offense for Darren McFadden.
After leaving Arkansas, Malzahn went to Tulsa to serve as co-coordinator, and the Golden Hurricanes had the nation's second-best running game the two seasons that he was there.
With Cameron Newton, Michael Dyer and Onterrio McCalebb and a fleet of big, fast WRs, Auburn basically runs a full-blown version of the Wildcat rather than the limited version that you see when a team inserts a tailback or wide receiver under center.
While Auburn has a dominating rushing game, Malzahn states that Auburn has barely scratched the surface in their passing game.
You had better believe that Auburn is going to work plenty on their passing game as part of their bowl game preparation. Malzahn is a future head coach and will get to match his wits with the savvy play-caller of Oregon's defense, Nick Aliotti.
This being said, the weak link on Auburn's staff is defensive coordinator Ted Roof, infamous for terrible defenses at Georgia Tech and Minnesota, as well as for a jaw-dropping record of futility as Duke's head football coach.
Make no mistake, Roof was hired primarily to recruit the state of Georgia.
This is Gene Chizik's defense.
This staff gives Auburn a real chance against Oregon despite their talent and experience.