BCS National Championship: 10 Reasons Why Oregon Will Beat Auburn
The battle in Glendale on January 10 will be epic, and although the BCS system clearly has its flaws, it appears at least the top two teams in the country were selected to the National Championship game.
To this point, it appears the front-runner is the Cam Newton led Auburn Tigers. With the Heisman Trophy winner leading the charge, the hype war seems to be an Eastern runaway.
However, it may be the West that takes the title this season, and there are several reasons why the Oregon Ducks can be the newest arrival on the dynasty totem pole.
LaMichael James is only a sophomore, but has already proved he is one of the most potent weapons in the most powerful offense in the country. There just might be enough coming out of Eugene to bring the title out West.
The Tostitos National Championship is sure to be one of the best match-ups in recent history, and here are 10 reasons why the Ducks could be the ones celebrating a National Title.
10. Chip Kelly Has Only Begun with This Rising Program
The Ducks' Head Coach is a great strategic mind, mastering the Spread Offense while dominating opposing defenses. Since coming to the Oregon football program, the Ducks led the Pac-10 in scoring in 2007 and 2008, and lead the nation in scoring in 2010.
Along with a strong offense, Kelly has a way to make players come together, bringing teamwork into the fold. Kelly became the first Pac-10 coach to win an outright conference championship in his first season, taking the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl since the 1995 season.
Kelly brings a dynamic to the Oregon Ducks that helps the offense flourish and turns college athletes into NFL stars. He certainly has his team in position to be a champion; the players will just have to perform.
9. Ducks' Defense Handles Strong Offenses Just Enough
When the likely number one pick in the 2011 NFL Draft came to town, the Ducks were able to keep him in check while their potent offense put the game away. Andrew Luck experienced some success against Oregon's defense, but Stanford ultimately couldn't come up with enough offense to slow down the Ducks.
Auburn's offense is slightly faster than Stanford's traditional pocket passing attack. However, Auburn will have to come up with a strong defense.
Oregon's defense appears to have a slight edge in this one, given Auburn is allowing 25 points per game against the Pac-10's eastern counterparts, the SEC. The Ducks allow just two touchdowns a game on average, and if the scoring goes something like it did in the Oregon-Stanford match-up, the Ducks roll with this one.
8. Oregon Is Young But Raw Talent Is Tremendous
The Ducks' two main offensive weapons, RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas, are both just sophomores. However, they play as though they have been starting for four years.
James uses tremendous downfield vision to elude potential tacklers while Thomas balances the offense with short passes and timely downfield strikes.
In just two seasons, both as a starter, James averaged over six yards per carry and has passed the 1,500 yard mark in both seasons, scoring 35 TDs.
Many experts are knocking the inexperience of Oregon's offense in major games. However, playing in the Pac-10 for two seasons isn't anything to blame. Many four year starters playing for small schools never see the kind of high-octane college football these two sophomores have shown in two seasons.
7. Nearly All Wins Were Blow Outs
Really only one game was close for the Ducks this season; a three point win over the Cal Golden Bears on the road.
In every other contest the Ducks have participated this season, they have blown out their opponent, leaving no doubt who the better team is.
Meanwhile, the Auburn Tigers have had six of their 13 wins come by eight points or less, including a three point win over 6-6 Clemson in OT, and another three point win over 6-6 Kentucky.
While the Tigers were squeaking by SEC opponents, the Ducks were blowing out teams like number four Stanford by 21 points, and 8-5 USC by 19 points.
For similar comparison, Oregon played a 6-6 SEC team when they traveled to Tennessee. They won by 35 points.
6. Oregon Doesn't Tire Late in Games
Even if you haven't watched an Oregon Ducks game this season, you've undoubtedly heard about the steady pace with which Oregon's offense plays the game.
When it seems opponents are beginning to tire, the Ducks begin to pull away with steady speed, a tribute to the work ethic they maintain.
Watch footage of games like Stanford-Oregon and Washington-Oregon. Towards the end of the game, Oregon's starters on offense and defense are still in the game, and they still appear faster and quicker to and off the ball. While scoring typically drops off towards the end of the game, the Ducks are still scoring, and late in the third quarter is where the Ducks pull away.
5. Auburn in Unfamiliar Territory
Nick Fairley and other Auburn defensive threats have been impressive all season, but they face similar offenses in the SEC with slight differences amongst each of them. However, they are in somewhat foreign territory against Oregon's spread offense, which means they will have to study hard to keep Oregon's offense in check.
The Ducks play an evolved West Coast offense with a playbook heavy enough to re-balance the Leaning Tower of Pisa or like a coaster under a crooked dining table.
The Ducks Head Coach, Chip Kelly, is the team's former Offensive Coordinator that led them to back-to-back offensive Pac-10 titles in 2007 and 2008 before taking over the team. This year, they lead the nation in total offense and scoring. Obviously the offensive scheme is working, and Auburn may be in foreign territory in January.
4. Casey Matthews Will Have A Career Game
Oregon's Senior ILB Casey Matthews comes with a pedigree of NFL-caliber athletes. His father, Clay Matthews Jr., played 19 seasons in the NFL. His grandfather, Clay, Sr., and uncle Bruce, both played in the NFL as well. Finally, his brother Clay Mattews III, was selected in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Matthews is a vocal and statistical leader in the Ducks' defense and he will be well prepared to handle the dual threat of Cam Newton, both on the ground and through the air. Auburn utilities more than just their QB as well. Michael Dyer has nearly 1,000 yards on the ground. Matthews is solid and quick, and will read this offense well thanks to instructions from Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti, who helped the Ducks finish with the best defense in the Pac-10.
If Matthews can eliminate Dyer from the equation, and force Newton to rely on receiver Darvin Adams too heavily, the rest of the Ducks defense can zero in on the Tiger's offense and shut it down.
3. Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer Will Be Ineffective
Auburn features speedy running backs with the ability to run to the outside, or line up in the winger position and take a toss. They compliment Newton very well in the offensive attack, and provide him with many options.
The running backs on Auburn's offense are not passing targets. In fact, they have only caught six passes combined, and are used primarily to offset the heavy passing game Auburn features when Newton isn't scrambling.
If Oregon's linebackers can keep pressure on these two backs, Newton will be forced to make more passes. It is possible both McCalebb and Dyer will be shut down, mostly because Oregon's defense is one of the best in the country at stopping the ground game and has a slight edge over Auburn's quick offense.
2. Ducks Score Too Often
We all know Oregon's offense leads the nation in yards gained and points scored, but it isn't just about having a talented offense. Other factors like coaching, play-calling, scouting, and even recruiting play an important role in maintaining a strong offense.
As we've seen against other opponents, the Ducks not only score on their opponents at will, they also knew the next step of the opposing offense.
Oregon's offense will come down to how well they understand the star-studded defense of the Auburn Tigers. Keeping the ball out of the middle of the field may benefit the Ducks and their speed. Nick Fairley figures to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft, and he plays primarily in the middle of Auburn's defensive line. Using their speed, expect the Ducks to take the ball to the outside, running fly sweeps, screen passes, and end arounds.
1. Oregon Will Force Newton Into Mistakes
You've heard this a thousand times, but you've heard it so often because it's true. The key to Auburn's offense is Cam Newton, and he is more of a threat as a runner than a passer. He has a strong arm, but it's his feet and leg strength that make him so dangerous.
In order for this to be an easier prediction, one side will have to perform under the level they have been accustomed to. Therefore, one defense will have to perform better than the other, as both schools feature non-stop scoring on offense.
This is a prediction based on that principle, and Cam Newton will be forced to become a pocket passer by frequent run blitzes and short pass coverage from Oregon all game long.
It seems more likely that the Ducks will be able to change the look of Auburn's offense than the Tigers will be capable of shutting down LaMichael James. Oregon is just too solid and experienced on their offensive line to fold under pressure.
By no means should this one be a blow out, but in a close call, the Ducks might pull this one out for their first ever BCS National Championship.