BCS Championship: 15 Reasons Oregon Will Blow Out Auburn in BCS Title Game
On the surface, it seems insane to even consider.
A blowout between Auburn and Oregon in the BCS National Championship? No way. Oregon (12-0), after all, is averaging just over 49 points and 537 total yards per game. The Tigers (13-0) aren't far behind (43 ppg, 498 total yards). One paper even pointed out that the Ducks opened as a 3-point favorite at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, but the line went down to a point. Oddsmakers have also had the over/under between 74 to 75 points.
Everyone is expecting a shootout, but what if ?
What if the Ducks happened to slow down Auburn, and do what Alabama was doing for a half in last month's Iron Bowl? Could an Oregon blowout follow?
Here are 15 reasons why it is possible:
15. They've Got Film
Yes, Auburn's offense has put up some amazing numbers, but the Tigers have also been in plenty of close games. With nearly a month to prepare, Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti (pictured) should be able to spot any weaknesses and ways to contain the Tigers.
14. Start and Finish
Oregon's already aggressive enough, and that could be a plus considering Auburn's allowed its most points this season in the first quarter (117). If the game is decided in the fourth quarter, the Ducks could hang too: Auburn has outscored opponents 125-48, compared to Oregon's margin of 115-24.
13. The Fairley Factor
If they even want to utter the word "blowout", Oregon must account for Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley. In 13 games, he has 55 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hurries. Let him in your backfield, and you're toast. Double team, or throw away from him, and you make things just a little easier for your offense.
12. Gunslinger? Check
Both Arkansas and Alabama showed it pays to have a talented quarterback who may not have Cam Newton's exact skill set, but can help an offense put up points. Oregon's Darron Thomas fits the mold, having completed 195-of-321 passes for 2,518 yards and 28 touchdowns. Thomas is also the Ducks' third leading rusher, with 85 carries for 492 yards and five touchdowns.
11. Wrap Up and Tackle
If you've watched Auburn at all, then you've seen plenty of teams fail in properly tackling Cam Newton. Oregon players and coaches have already stressed how important basic fundamentals will be.
"We went against the guy from Arizona (Nick Foles), who was a tough guy to take down," Ducks defensive tackle Brandon Bair (pictured) told The Register Guard. "Those big guys, you’ve got to make sure you get a good grip on them when you take them down.”
Do it consistently, and this game would really get interesting.
10. Make It Count
Oregon doesn't waste its chances in the redzone. The Ducks have scored on 53 of 63 chances (84 percent), with 42 opportunities going for touchdowns.
9. It's Happened Before
There's a great story told about the Ducks, and their game with Colorado in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Entering the matchup, the Buffaloes had rushed for over 220 yards in each of their final four games. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti turned to an assistant and said, "You know, these aren't highlight tapes. This is an actual game."
“They had rushed for umpteen yards ... back to back to back,” Aliotti said of Colorado. “And nobody gave the little Duckies a chance. And, every game’s different, but the little Duckies were good on that day. And that was a special moment."
Final score? Oregon won 38-16.
8. Well Suited Defense
If Auburn wants to pick up the pace, don't expect Oregon's defense to blink.
"I know you hear us talk about that a lot, but we practice fast and we play fast," Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti told ESPN.com this spring. "We play hard. The first thing I'd attribute it to was when we got to the games, the games seemed slower for us, because there's no way—you've seen us practice—the ball can't possibly be spotted as quickly as we spot it when we practice.
"The games became slower, which helped our guys. Second, the fact that we stuck to what we do. We didn't change too much but had enough wrinkles that we kept people off guard. But in the long run we just stuck to what we do and did it over and over and over every week."
7. Protect the Ball
Oregon has 25 fumbles on the season and lost 15. Limiting turnovers will be a must if you want to even have a shot at a blowout. Alabama coach Nick Saban said turnovers became a factor in their 28-27 loss to Auburn, including a fumble before the half and getting inside the 20 only to have Mark Ingram fumble.
6. Time Off
Not playing for a month could be a factor for both teams, but in this case, could it benefit Oregon in terms of slowing down Cam Newton?
"Usually in the national title game, the team that relies on the high-octane offense usually loses to the team with the stronger defense, mostly because the time off allows the 'D' to figure out how to slow the 'O' but also because great offenses tend to lose the timing and precision with a month off," writes Pete Fiutak of FOXSports.com.
5. Not Up to Par
Auburn's defense is allowing 24.5 points per game. Clemson, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama have shown it is possible to score plenty on the Tigers. Keep in mind: In the past six seasons, national champions haven't allowed over 19.9 points per game.
4. Remember Pryor?
While the offenses are different, facing Cam Newton won't be too different for an Oregon team that had to play Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State in last year's Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes won 26-17 and Pryor rushed for 72 yards, while throwing for 266 and two touchdowns.
3. Perfect Setup
Yes, Oregon is talented, but the pressure lies squarely with Auburn, which will seek to continue the SEC's run of national championships. They've also been led by arguably one of the most talented players to ever come through the conference. Could he run the table and win one more big game?
2. Great Tempo
Oregon averages over 79 plays per game, while Auburn is at 66.
"The Ducks offense is college football's version of Twitter: rapid and to the point," writes Kelly Whiteside of USA Today.
But could Auburn neutralize it? Herb Hand thinks so. Hand is Vanderbilt's offensive line coach and has known both Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Hand told The New York Times this game could actually be low-scoring, and that both programs actually mirror each other.
“If there are two defenses prepared to play against the opposing offense, it would be those two,” Hand said. “That’s what they see in practice every day. I don’t think Oregon’s tempo will rattle Auburn or Auburn will be rattled by Oregon.”
1. The Right Weapons
There's no way you could even discuss a blowout if you didn't have the right kind of offense with talented players like Oregon does.
"Oregon goes for the jugular on every play," former UCLA coach Terry Donahue told the New York Post. "A lot of coaches talk about that, but Chip Kelly does it. He swings for the fences on every play."