Four key considerations will determine which team will win the game between Oregon and Auburn for the national title in college football.
If you look at the stats, everything says tonight’s BCS national title game will be a close one when Auburn and Oregon square off.
If this assumption is true, then how does someone make a pick regarding who will win the battle between the Ducks and Tigers?
When picking bowl games, some of the more traditional elements that go into making a pick have to be thrown out and others that would not typically carry much weight have to be factored in at a higher level. Here are the big four for you to consider as you start making a choice about who to pull for tonight.
Consideration One: Which team has the more complex offense?
After taking so much time down between games, it is hard to come out and make a really complex offense work. Receivers and quarterbacks lack timing, players miss assignments and getting back into a rhythm is tough.
Go against complex offenses.
Auburn probably uses more formations than any team in college football, while Oregon wants to get to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball.
On the surface, this would indicate that Oregon gets the edge in this category, but in reality, Auburn executes the more simple offense. Why? QB Cam Newton is their best runner and he touches the ball every snap.
Auburn’s offense may look complicated, but it is predicated on very simple principles that mostly involve a run by Newton first. For the season, Newton carried the ball 242 times and passed it 246 times. A full 56 percent of Auburn’s offensive plays went directly through his hands or his arms.
Oregon loves to hand the ball to LaMichael James, but he only carried the ball on 48 percent of the Ducks' total rushing plays. Duck QB Darron Thomas passed the football 321 times and ran it 85. He was the primary playmaker on only 43 percent of Oregon’s plays.
Oregon’s offense requires more reads to get the ball in the hands of more players. This gives Auburn the edge in less offensive complexity.
Consideration Two: Who has the better defense?
It is easier to get a defense ready to play than an offense because the timing issues are not as difficult to overcome.
The biggest issue facing both defenses is the possibility that there was too much time to prepare and players are on overload with information.
On paper it looks like Oregon has the better defense, but the offenses faced by the Ducks were not the caliber of those Auburn faced.
For more details on this subject we invite you to read an article from yesterday: Auburn and Oregon: The BCS national title will be decided by the "other guys"
Given the disruptive abilities of tackle Nick Fairley and linebacker Josh Bynes, the edge here also goes to Auburn.
Consideration Three: Who has the fewest distractions?
When playing in bowl games, things like player suspensions, for any reason, coaching searches that detract from game preparation and the demands of fans are tough for young people to handle. During bowl season, these events are almost as critical as the offenses and defenses.
Oregon has not had their best player dealing with NCAA issues for the last third of the season and they have not had to deal with continual rumors regarding the departures of various assistant coaches.
Cam Newton must have ice water in his veins to not crack under the microscope he has lived under since his father’s pay-for-play scheme came to light, and by all accounts, Auburn's offensive coordinator has only had the game with Oregon on his mind, despite being courted by several schools for head coaching positions. We have not even mentioned Nick Fairley and the criticism he receives for dirty play.
Given all of these factors, the edge here goes to Oregon.
Consideration Four: Who does not want to be at the game?
Think Michigan State getting thumped by Alabama. The Spartans thought they deserved a BCS bowl bid and came out against a Bama team looking to make a statement. It was a beat down that would not have happened in the regular season.
There is no edge in this category when it comes to the BCS national title. So far there has not been any whining from either side about not being worthy of the game. Best we can tell, they both think they deserve the shot more than TCU. We agree.
Now all you have to do is spend the rest of the day making up your mind regarding how each team stacks up in light of these four considerations. You have our thoughts, but you have to make up your own mind.