Auburn and Oregon Have Great Offense, but the 'Other Guys' Will Win It

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIJanuary 9, 2011

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jamie Harper #8 of the Clemson Tigers is tackled by Nick Fairley #90, Antoine Carter #45 and Josh Bynes #17 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Oregon brings a powerful offense into the BCS title game. Auburn does too. Expect the better defense to lead their team to victory. Now, the question is which team is it?

Get the most news for the BCS national title game between the Ducks and Tigers at College Sports Matchups

Auburn is going to win the BCS national title in college football Monday night when they face the Oregon Ducks, and it has nothing to do with their offense.

Well, it might have a little to do with Cam Newton directing Gus Malzahn’s offense really well, but when it comes to picking a winner in this game it is much more likely the outcome will be determined by the guys on the side of the ball that have not been attracting all the headlines this week.

On paper, the stats say the edge on defense belongs to Oregon, but sometimes stats don’t tell the entire story.  Here is how the two teams rank in the major defensive categories:






















A quick glance would say Oregon stands a better chance of stopping Auburn’s offense based on the national rankings, but part of what makes college football so unpredictable is variations in the level of competition schools face over the course of a season.

Why does Auburn’s defense come in so far behind Oregon’s? Take a look at the competition they faced.

During the 2010 season Auburn faced eight teams in the national top 50 when it comes to scoring offense. Less than half a point per game kept LSU from the 50th spot.

Stanford and Arizona State are the only two teams faced by the Ducks that finished 2010 in the national top 50.  Meanwhile they played seven opponents that ranged from 53rd in scoring offense to 116th.

The worst team Auburn took on was number 100 Louisiana-Monroe.

Here is the fact: When it came to putting points on the board, the Tigers faced teams with more productive offenses than the Ducks did.

Ignoring points on the board and looking only at yards does not change the situation very much. Auburn faced seven teams that finished 2010 in the top 50, while Oregon went up against three schools that finished in the same group.  

Running through the rushing and passing defense numbers would yield just about the same results with only slight changes.

Going into this game, it is obvious that neither defense is great. It is difficult to even say they are consistently good, but one of them will be good enough to stop the other’s offense enough times in the BCS national title game to allow their team to lift the crystal football.

Auburn has the best defensive player on the field in Nick Fairley. Fairley knows how to disrupt a backfield from his defensive tackle spot. He is not alone as playmaker for the Tigers’ defense. Senior Josh Bynes has also contributed big plays consistently from his linebacker spot.

Auburn’s defense gives the Tigers the edge in the national title game because they have been tested by better offenses that what the Ducks defense has seen this year. What might surprise those who have not watched them play is just how much of an impact they will have on the outcome.

Final score: Auburn 42, Oregon 28