Throughout the 2010 college football season, two offenses have been highlight reels on ESPN every night they play: the University of Oregon Ducks and the Auburn University Tigers. Anchored by Heisman candidates, both the ducks and the tigers have ascended to the pinnacle of college football and will be playing in the Tostitos BCS Championship game on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. Both teams are essentially identical, boasting some of the best offenses in recent college football history.
Anchored by Heisman favorite Cam Newton, the Auburn Tigers have survived a rigorous SEC schedule and have landed a spot in the National Championship. Regardless of whether or not Cam Newton participated in illegal activities from the NCAA's perspective, the man is loaded with talent. He led the Auburn Tigers in both passing and rushing and was able to come up with a big play whenever he needed one. He also steered Auburn back from a 24 point deficit against former national champion, Alabama, in one of the greatest comebacks in college football this year.
Whether the game was on the line or Cam was leading a rout of another team, Newton outperformed every player on the football field. He is the x-factor in the Auburn offense and has propelled it to heights that it has never reached before.
Hidden within the offensive onslaught that is the Auburn Tigers is Michael Dyer, a freshmen running-back who could be argued to be one of the stand-out freshmen this college football season. He is only 50 yards short of a 1,000 yard season and is a threat to take the ball to the house each time he touches the ball. With his combination of both speed and brute force, Dyer is able to relieve some of the pressure from Newton by carrying the ball a few times per game, achieving the 100 yard or more mark 3 times this season so far.
The combination of both these players as well as other key play-makers on Auburn's offense makes their team a threat to score on every single play. While they are typically methodical with their work and way their offense is structured, Auburn can accomplish anything with Cameron Newton at the reigns (just watch his hail mary completion with no time left on the clock at the end of the first half of the SEC Championship against South Carolina).
Auburn attacks opponent's defenses with a rushing and passing scheme that accounts for 497.7 yards per game, which makes them 7th in the nation in that category. While they only account for 221.2 yards per game respectively (ranking 73rd in the nation), their rushing attack more than makes up for their passing game as the Auburn Tigers have rushed for 287.2 yards per game, good enough for 6th in the nation. They are also ranked 6th in the nation with 43.2 points per game, a number which will have every defensive coordinator in the nation cringing.
And then there are the Oregon Ducks.
Scoring 49.1 points per game, the Ducks are tops in the nation in that category. I have not seen a team which defines quick-strike offense more than the Oregon Ducks. They are a threat on every single play and risk everything in order to win big, and they are able to isolate their quick and speedy receivers because they so much depth, which causes many mismatches.
Which star offensive player will have the best game?
The factor back in their offense is LaMichael James. James leads the nation in yards with 1,682 yards and rushing touchdowns with an University of Oregon record 21 scored on the ground. Normally thought of as an undersized back, LaMichael James is impressively strong. He is one of the team leaders in weight room squats and is a force to bring down on the football field. His quick cutbacks are usually followed with a dive up the middle right into a defenders chest, knocking the defender back a few yards.
It is easy for a defender to lose him behind the offensive line, only to see him blur right by him a few moments later. Had it not been for Cameron Newton's amazing college football season, LaMichael James just might be hoisting the coveted Heisman trophy Saturday night.
While James is the force to be reckoned with on the Oregon Duck offense, he would not be anywhere without the talent and leadership of the first-year Oregon Quarterback, Darron Thomas. Duck fans knew that there was something special about this kid during his true-freshmen year when he almost led a comeback against Boise State in his first game ever, throwing for over 200 yards in the 4th quarter alone.
Red-shirting last year behind Jeremiah Masoli's impressive year, Darron Thomas took his opportunity to ascend to greatness after Masoli was kicked off of the team. He beat out Nate Costa in the QB competition this fall and has proved head coach Chip Kelly to be a wise man. He has accounted for 28 touch downs this year as well as over 2,000 yards passing. While he does not keep the ball as much as Masoli did, he is a far better passer, and when he does keep the ball, he gets yards.
Just like Auburn, Oregon has a plethora of talented players who will play key factors in this blur offense that Chip Kelly loves to run. They account for a lot of points, and they account for them fast. Though their first half numbers seem humane, Oregon has looked like a god in the second half. They use their stamina on offense to wear defenses down until they either give up or have to fake injuries to compensate for more time (thank you, Jeff Tedford).
No matter how you look at the offenses of Oregon and Auburn, there is one thing you must recognize: this game is going to be a shoot-out (hopefully on the scales of Texas-USC; who didn't love that game?). Though both defenses are highly underrated and have their own weapons (Nick Fairley for Auburn and Casey Matthews for Oregon), it is clear the offenses will steal the show on January 10, 2011 in the BCS National Championship. This game may just go right down to the wire, and though both offenses are anchored by star players, I believe that the Oregon offense will eventually be too much for a big SEC Auburn defense who will eventually tire.
Oregon 37, Auburn 24