BCS Championship Breakdown
Written by Curt Popejoy on 01/09/2011
With the BCS Championship game only a day away, and the Auburn Tigers set to square off with the Oregon Ducks in Glendale Arizona, there have been a lot of thoughts running through my head. And rather than just let them all fight amongst themselves in my head, I am going to put them down here.
I am tired of hearing pundits on both sides say, "but _____ hasn't played a team like ____ this season" pertaining to both teams. What nonsense. These are clearly the two best teams in the country. Obviously if they haven't played yet, then they haven't played a team like the other all year. Using this argument as the basis for your prediction is absurd. Auburn has played great runningbacks this season, and Oregon has played against great quarterbacks this season. And let's be honest that's where we have to begin.
LaMichael James is a remarkable athlete. How Auburn chooses to defend him, and how Oregon chooses to utilize him will be a huge factor in this game. If I am Auburn, if I can shut James down, and somehow Darron Thomas can have the game of his life and beat you, I walk out of there with my head held high. But if they let James run wild on them, then they deserve what they get. Auburn's defensive line is anchored by one of the meanest nastiest players in college football in Nick Fairley and I fully expect Thomas to see him in nightmares long after this game.
Cam Newton is an even more remarkable player. And unlike James, he appears to need very little help to get off in games. From the first time I saw Newton play, in the Citizen's Bank Bowl when he was still the quarterback of Blinn Community College you could tell he was going to be a truly special player. And this year he has not disappointed. Even in light of all the controversy, you have to be amazed at what he's accomplished. Averaging 300 yards of offense a game and accounting for 48 total touchdowns is staggering to say the least. And what I loved most about Newton this year was how he knew what to take from the defenses. LSU plays coverage he rushes for 217 yards. South Carolina spies him and he goes for 335 through the air.
What will Oregon do? I expect a few things:
When Oregon has the ball - First off they are going to have to loosen up the Tiger defense by throwing the football. They are going to come out keying the run, and the Ducks can't be predictable. And they have to stick with the run no matter what. It's what they do well. I also expect tricks. Lots of tricks. Reverses, double reverses, fake punts, you name it, the Ducks will pull out all the stops. But as I said, throw the ball downfield against a suspect Auburn pass D, and set up James for some big runs. They also better play fast and hope Auburn isn't ready for it.
When Oregon is on defense - Mix things up. If there's anything that Newton hasn't been really tested with it's bizarre and exotic coverages. This is where a game planner like Chip Kelly will be able to seal off those deep throws without playing straight man. Playing too much man coverage is suicide against Newton. He just drools when he sees a bunch of defensive players with their backs to him running downfield.
When Auburn has the ball - Run the ball, but not with Newton. The Tigers have an excellent trio of runningbacks not named Cam Newton and they should use them. The Ducks defense is going to be keying on Newton so hard, there should be lanes for guys like Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb to pop off some nice runs. This will be perfect to set up the deep throw to Darvin Adams, who really doesn't have a peer on the Oregon defense. But ultimately what Auburn will do on offense is ride Newton. Whether it's buying time and making throws or running to keep the chains moving.
When Auburn is on defense - They have to win the war up front. Their front 4 is going to be so important here. Like I said above, Oregon is going to want to play fast. The Tigers are going to need to platoon players quickly on that front, and more importantly than that, those guys have to make stops in the run game and pressure Thomas. Auburn has a great front 7 but very average back 4. If Oregon can get to that third level, the big plays are going to rain down on the Tigers. Auburn's defense need to make big stops on first down and slow the game down a little.
Two big things
1. Turnovers - The team that wins this battle wins the game. Oregon feasts on turnovers and Auburn doesn't turn it over much. The team on the plus side here should win.
2. Newton - I watched Vince Young single-handedly beat a USC defense that was loaded with NFL talent. When I watch Newton play, I see a lot of VY in him. He's literally two players in one when it comes to his ability to throw the ball as well as run it, and that's what Young did. If Oregon lets Auburn hang around in this, I just have to believe that Newton will find a way to get it done like he has all season.
Prediction sure to go wrong - I'm going with Auburn. Even removing Newton and James as each team's best players, I think Auburn is more talented at more spots. I consider the coaching a slight edge to Oregon, as well as special teams. But the Tiger front 7 is really good, and I dont' think the Duck defense matches up very well.
Last Edited: 01/09/2011