(2) Oregon (12-0) vs. (1) Auburn (13-0) (-3)
Two Heisman finalists, two teams from the two best conferences in college football, and yet…and yet this feels hollow somehow. Something’s missing.
Sure, TCU went 13-0 and were impressive in beating Wisconsin, but without Boise State here it’s just not the same. The most ardent BCS supporters always argue that the debate the system causes is good for college football. There’s very little debate going on about this game, so what about that is good for college football?
And what’s good for college football about a potential fifth straight BCS national title for the SEC? Nothing. That’s what. Especially since that LSU title is essentially fraudulent since they had no business in that game in the first place. They did win, so chill out, LSU fan. Still, the last thing college football needs is the talking heads, ESPN, and the SEC itself talking about how superior the conference is. Yeah, sure, the top end of the SEC has been very good, but their middle and bottom ends are just as mediocre as any other conference.
Oh right, they’re supposed to play an actual game Monday night.
The Oregon Ducks are a second half team and Auburn has a nasty habit of getting down early and letting Cam Newton bring them back. Not a good sign for Auburn.
I also don’t think Oregon is going to get away from it’s best weapons like Alabama did, which will let Auburn’s defense gameplan for the Oregon offense’s base plays. And yet every other team has prepared for Oregon’s offense and still got smoked (except for Cal).
The only real wrinkle I’d expect from Oregon are some attempts to run Darron Thomas a little bit more than they have so far. The zone-read portion of their offense isn’t going to work as well if Thomas isn’t a threat to actually keep it, and Auburn knows it. Also, the more fakes Oregon works into their offense the better because their receivers aren’t going to get open just on their own and even LaMichael James can’t beat all 11 Tiger defenders on every running play.
Everyone knows Auburn is going to use a heavy dose of Cam Newton and figure that he’ll make enough plays to get the win. That’s been a pretty safe bet, but on this stage in this game I don’t think it’ll be enough. They’ve gone down so many times that the Auburn players are convinced Newton can bring them back no matter what. Expect them to come out flat again and mount a huge charge in the third quarter.
This time, however, it won’t be enough. Oregon will get hot in the second half too as their adjustments take hold, and though Newton will be undoubtedly great, Oregon’s defense is just respectable enough to stop him when it matters. Besides, when all the previews are throwing Vince Young’s name out there as the expectation for Newton’s performance, the result will probably be underwhelming.
I’m hoping for a true, old-style shoot out, but both defenses have had enough time to prepare for pretty much every base play run by both teams. This means second-half adjustments will be at a premium. Oregon has a couple of different weapons and options on offense, but Auburn’s plan is all Cam Newton. Since only 17 percent of Heisman winners also win the national title in the same season, it doesn’t look good.