Five reasons Auburn will beat Oregon for the BCS Championship

Scottsdale, Ariz.–We’ve been analyzing this game for 37 days and it all comes down to this: Tonight, No. 1 Auburn (13-0) can win its first BCS  national championship since 1957 and the fifth straight for the SEC by beating No. 2 Oregon here in the desert.  There are a lot of Auburn people out here without tickets because, if it happens, they want to say for the rest of their lives that they were here.

Can Auburn do it? Or does Oregon win the first national championship in its football history?

Five reasons why I’m picking Auburn:

1. Cameron Newton: A lot the best defensive minds in college football (Nick Saban, John Chavis, Ellis Johnson) have tried to come up with a plan to contain the Auburn quarterback and nobody has been able to do it. Newton led the SEC in rushing and when defenses have stacked the box and forced Newton to throw he has done a remarkable job in the second half of the season. In Newton’s last five games he has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,225 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception. Newton now has a chance to become only the 14th player in history to win a Heisman Trophy and then go on to win the national championship.

There is no question that Oregon will gear its fast, physical defense to slow down the running game and hope that Newton throws interceptions.

2. Nick Fairley: When California nearly beat Oregon back in November, the Bears kept it close by using strong pressure up the middle to disrupt the well-timed and agressive offense of the Ducks. Nobody puts pressure up the middle like Auburn’s Nick Fairley. Auburn has been very good about making the opposing quarterback uncomfortable, especially in the second half of games. So look for them to use Fairley to really turn the heat up on Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas. I will throw in this caveat: After the close call against Cal, Oregon started counter punching the pressure up the middle with quick hitting plays on the perimeter. But if  Auburn doesn’t effectively pressure Thomas, that could spell trouble for the Tigers.

3. Toughness: Don’t get me wrong, Oregon is a physical team, albeit smaller than Auburn. They play fast and they play hard. But Auburn has been a mentally tough, resilient team all season. The Tigers have trailed in eight of their 13 victories and four times they rallied from double-digit deficits (including a 24-0 deficit at Alabama) to win. But Auburn has played on the big stage all season and is not in awe of its surroundings. If the game is close in the fourth quarter, you have to like Auburn.

4. The Auburn offensive line: Nobody is talking about these guys but they are probably the key to the game. With the Oregon defense focused on Newton, there are going to be opportunities to run the football with freshman RB Michael Dyer (73.1 ypg) and speedster Onterrio McCalebb. Auburn led the SEC in rushing with 287.2 yards per game. That’s because of an offensive line that starts four seniors and a junior. The four seniors have combined for 161 career starts. If Auburn can run the ball and control the clock, that limits the number of possessions and places for Oregon’s high-power offense. The key to all of that is the offensive line.

5. Wes Byrum: As a true freshman in 2007, Byrum went to Florida a kicked a field goal on the last play of the game to beat No. 4 Florida 20-17 in The Swamp. Since then Byrum has been one of the best clutch kickers in football. He had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2008, hitting just 11 of 19 field goals. But since then Byrum has connected on 30 of 36 attempts. If the game comes down to a late field goal, this kid has the right stuff to make it.

Final Analysis: The SEC has won four straight national championships but the league has never played a Pac-10 team in a title game. Because of its speed and tempo Oregon presents challenges  unlike  any team that Auburn, or anybody else in college football, has ever seen. Defensive stops in this game will be like gold. After a 37-day layoff, both teams will come out with a lot of energy–too much energy, in fact. The team that settles down earliest and starts playing their normal game will have a distinct advantage. I think that team will be Auburn. This could be a repeat of the Texas-USC game where somebody gets a defensive stop and scores on the last possession to win. In a close game I give the edge to Auburn.

Final score: Auburn 35, Oregon 31.

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Barnhart and Durham: Wes will be in the studio in Atlanta and I will be out in Arizona as we break down the big game. Please join us starting at 10 a.m. www.790thezone.com

424 comments Add your comment

WDE!!

January 10th, 2011
8:58 am

Another day, another batch of incessant whiners. Only talking football today, leave the garbage at home. Once we pluck the ducks in the Desert tonight and the attacks on the AU family subside, where will all you haters go to vent your anger? There’s about to be a bunch of crow stuffed in the mouth of all the doubters and skeptics. You forget we were ranked #22 before the season and Alabama was #1 and endlessly over-hyped. Anyway you look at it, it’s can be quite an accomplishment to cap it all off tonight. Here’s to a good clean, exciting game. Chill-bumps already. War Eagle!!
AU 45 OR 31

Gator

January 10th, 2011
8:59 am

Will none of you dash fans admit that you cheated with Hershel? Are you just going to ignore that?

r.e.

January 10th, 2011
9:01 am

Wow that really hurts our feelings that you bunch of classless Azz clowns won’t be watching the game. I really enjoyed watching the crap bowl that yall played in and lost. Hope you continue your misery next year. Your a bunch of Hypocrits

Hike !!

January 10th, 2011
9:02 am

Auburn Fans

From a Dawg fan…GOOD LUCK TONIGHT !!! GO SEC !!!

Bobbi Louder

January 10th, 2011
9:02 am

Why is toilet paper so closely associated with Auburn football?

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
9:02 am

Gator…..You need to worry about a how a team with mostly “5 star” starters lost 5 games. Talk about low return on investment.

dawgfan

January 10th, 2011
9:04 am

I think Oregon wins. Auburn does not have the dominating defense that we’ve seen out of past BCS Champions from the SEC. In fact, their defense is average at best. And I don’t care what all the draft experts say. I think Fairley is overrated. Georgia was able to contain him so I’m sure Oregon will have no problem either. In all fairness, there’s not much any defensive lineman can do against Oregon’s fast paced offense. Most of you probably haven’t seen them play. They are the real deal.

The SEC was decidedly down this year and Auburn benefitted. I think this is the year the SEC run finally comes to an end.

FEAR THE TIGERS!!

January 10th, 2011
9:05 am

“DawgInLex” for a second there I could have sworn you were describing THUGA!!!!

SecIsFootball

January 10th, 2011
9:05 am

GO DUCKS! Beat the Alabama Cow College!!

Gator

January 10th, 2011
9:06 am

Jb at home—-answer the question. Did UGA pay Herschel? Never mind, I know they did. Let’s go ahead and take away UGAs national championship.

championship.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
9:08 am

the Answer is NO. In Fact, it obvious looking at Georgia the last 30 years, Cheating is nowhere to be found. I will tip my hat to Spurrier on his run at Florida. I believe he did it the right way.

jumbeauxtiger

January 10th, 2011
9:08 am

Auburn 41 Oregon 21

And Tony, I guess you were wrong when you said last summer that Miles had more heat on him than Richt. It looks like LSU will finish 9th and this is his 4th 11 win season in his 6 years in Death Valley.

McGarity made a mistake in not letting Richt go. I don’t see him changing.

VDAWG

January 10th, 2011
9:10 am

Auburn fan for a day…git em Tiger.

FEAR THE TIGERS!!

January 10th, 2011
9:10 am

dawgfan if Fairley is over-rated why did he lead the nation in tackles for loss, despite being double-teamed on virtually every play? Did you even watch the LSU game or the Iron Bowl? He is a beast! He’s an almost certain top-5 pick. I think the NFL scouts know a little more than you do.

Driving Ms Dooley

January 10th, 2011
9:10 am

I agree with the earlier poster who said that a 37 day layoff is a joke and we should boycott this one.

Except for the fact that I love college football and I love offense and there’s no way in heck I’m missing this. If I have to put on snow shoes and find a TV I will.

Auburn 56
Ducks 38

Cam brings it home for the SEC and all the haters can share the glory.

Rev. Critter

January 10th, 2011
9:10 am

Tony, I read and respect yout articles. You are straight to the point and tactful. I think this is the best analysis I have heard so far. The reason I am picking Auburn is because of their ability to improvise. If their offense is not clicking just right they will still find a way to win, however, Oregon’s offense is SO rythym oriented that if Fairley gets to the QB often they will be thrown completely off balance and have no response.

Forgot about Jim Harrick Jr?

January 10th, 2011
9:13 am

Cheating “nowhere to be found at UGA” ?JB at home, did you miss the whole Jim Harrick fiasco? How many points does a 3-pointer count for? LoL

Paul in RDU

January 10th, 2011
9:13 am

I expect Auburn to win – and Tony has given most of the reasons – but there is one big unknown in this game. How sharp will either team be after a 5 week layoff? This is almost like starting a new season.

Sergeant Joe Friday, LAPD

January 10th, 2011
9:13 am

Who cares…..college footballand the NFL are played by nothing but thugs and criminals that should be in prison.

smitty

January 10th, 2011
9:15 am

I am so tired of Cam Newton that I could spit. Kellon Moore got scewred out a at least one trophy. You can bet me if Kellon Moore’s dad would have done what Cam Newton’s dad did he would have got kicked off the team. I hope Oregon sackes Cam every chance they get. BSU can get your butt but since they are not playing Auburn go Oregon all the way.

UGASlobberknocker

January 10th, 2011
9:15 am

It pains me to say it but..

WAR EAGLE!!!!!!!

Beat the quack out of those water chickens.

jumbeauxtiger

January 10th, 2011
9:16 am

Fairley was the most dominating defensive tackle in college football this season. In my opinion it all started with his great performance on the early season Thursday night game against Miss St.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
9:16 am

jumeauxtiger………Dr Adams, the president of UGA, is a BIG Mark Richt supporter. Firing him this year was not going to happen….If Fact, IMO. any glimer of hope next year would save him, like 8 wins. Oh course, that’s beating weak teams, and losing to anyone who counts. 80% of dawgs fans LIKE Mark, but I would say 60-70 % think we need new leadership. Recruiting has slipped the last 2-3 years, and on field performance has without a doubt.

npgator

January 10th, 2011
9:16 am

Go Tigers! WAR EAGLE all the way for another SEC BCS Championship!

Georgia Tech Fan

January 10th, 2011
9:17 am

I’m not a Georgia Fan, at all, and I think Auburn’s football program is disgusting.

There’s no way you take some loser like Chizik and pair him with one of the worst defensive coordinators to ever coach, and win football games, with anything close to integrity and honesty.

AUBURN LOSES TONIGHT. FOLLOWED BY AN NCAA INVESTIGATION AND DEATH PENALTY.

[...] Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal Constitution blogs five reasons why he thinks Auburn will win. [...]

jumbeauxtiger

January 10th, 2011
9:18 am

Good point Paul but it has actually been 44 days or just over 6 weeks since both have played. Geez that’s half a season.

DawginLex

January 10th, 2011
9:18 am

It is a proven fact, anyone who refers to The University of Georgia as “UGAY” does so to mask their own sexual issues.

r.e. = If the shoe fits, wear it??????

PTC DAWG

January 10th, 2011
9:18 am

wins-by-a-link

January 10th, 2011
9:19 am

Auburn will win, Probably by 14 or more, Chizik will get a raise and contract ext., Cam will get a big pro contract same as Fairley, But the question will linger: Did Auburn cheat?

dawgfan

January 10th, 2011
9:19 am

FEAR THE TIGER!!!, oh whoopee he had a good game against LSU. A lot of defenders had good games against LSU this year. Their offense was not very good. If he’s so great, why was Georgia able to contain him. There’s a reason why he was always late getting to Aaron Murray. He was getting his azz blocked. That’s why.

As for the tackles for loss stat, that could be somewhat inflated because Auburn didn’t have any other playmakers on defense making tackles. Akeem Dent led the SEC in tackles for most of the year. Do I think he’s a great player? Hardly.

Let’s see what the NFL thinks about him in a couple of months after they’ve really had a chance to breakdown the film. Right now its just hype.

UGASlobberknocker

January 10th, 2011
9:19 am

Would all the people who want to dump on Auburns parade take one second and ponder what you would be feeling if it was the Dawgs in this situation? wouldnt we feel that the NCAA blessing was good enough? Wouldnt we be full steam ahead on the game tonight? of course we would..I know I would.

So if something comes back later so be it, but for now, the Auburn Tiger has been questioned by the po po and released . Thats good enough for any normal citizen in trouble, its good enough for Auburn here. .

So tomorrow, I’m back to an Auburn hater..today: WAR Eagle!!

size d batteries

January 10th, 2011
9:21 am

I’m hoping that Auburn wins big – and then on Wednesday the NCAA and FBI take it all away. Give the barners a chance to go crazy for 36 hours and then snap it away. That would be the ultimate!!!!

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
9:23 am

The NCAA is finished with Auburn. The case is closed…….But I bet they keep an eye on them.

DawginLex

January 10th, 2011
9:23 am

The NCAA is a freaking joke and anyone worth their salt knows it. The fact that Auburn hasn’t been penalized yet is all that you mindless dumb a$$e$ have going for you. Go back and read the same type of comments from the USC folks in 2004.

Just because nothing was proven does not make it right. Cecil Newton prostituted his own son to play college football. Auburn got him and as a result will win the most tainted national title in NCAA history.

If it was Georgia, I’d be ashamed to answer your question.

Wrong is wrong. Just because the NCAA hasn’t ruled it wrong yet doesn’t change the fact that it is wrong.

jumbeauxtiger

January 10th, 2011
9:25 am

I understand JB. I lived in Georgia for 27 years and have numerous Dawg friends and they are not happy.

I believe if Richt loses to Florida next year he is gone, unless he loses to them and wins at least 9 games.

Richt will have even more pressure on him in the WLOCP facing a rookie coach in Muschamp. This is not intended to be a slight to Muschamp. My point is there no reason for the Georgia program to be in its current state. Noone can dispute that Richt is a good man but this all falls back to him.

Murphy

January 10th, 2011
9:26 am

I have bet against Cam and the Boys at least 4-5 times this year and got burned on each one.Not tonight-Im taking Auburn.SEC five in a row!

Just Hype?

January 10th, 2011
9:27 am

Just hype? Have you seen him in person? He’s the Lombardi award winner for crissakes!!! Still whining about the loss I see. If you did such a good job blocking this year, why was your team 6-7?

UGASlobberknocker

January 10th, 2011
9:29 am

Dawg in Lex.

Your comments would be welcome..in Russia. It’s amazing that you have all of the facts and can act as judge and jury on this case when no one else seems to be able to do so. Dont you think if the NCAA could have hung him they would have? Maybe CSI could use your investigative talents.

The last time I checked, the US Constitution/ BOR had this inconvenient clause in it :”Innocent until proven guilty” . Wow what a foreign concept on this blog.

If Auburn did wrong..it’ll come out and we can dump on them then. To do so now is just sour grapes

Alabama Usually Beats Us Round November

January 10th, 2011
9:33 am

praying for power outgaes all over the Auburn fan base from 8 pm until midnight-30.
Aburn cheated. Pure and simple. Barners do not desverve to watch their team with a bogas BCS that will be vacatued abyway.

Bubba

January 10th, 2011
9:35 am

Auburn chokes as usual. Chiznick cries like girl. Oregon 54-42.

DawginLex

January 10th, 2011
9:35 am

slobberknocker,

Replace “Cecil Newton” with “John Wall’s Dad” and replace “Cam Newton” with “John Wall” and replace “Gene Chizik” with “John Calipari” and you tell me John Wall would have played college basketball last year.

The NCAA picks and chooses and makes up the rules as they go along.

They are a joke.

Are you denying that the Southern Cal folks were not saying the same things 6 years ago? They were, trust me. Auburn is foolish enough to believe all the crap, let them believe it.

The Karl Childers

January 10th, 2011
9:35 am

Thirty-seven days is a long time between games and during a layoff like that the bigger team gets out of shape faster. With their emphasis on fitness, Oregon will be sharp, rested and ready to execute their up-tempo game plan. Auburn, as the bigger team, will be more likely to come in out of shape and sluggish and thus more likely to fall behind early, never to catch up. Newton has been distracted from serious practice, in fact I’ve seen him all over town. This has all the makings of a 38 – 31 Oregon victory.

UGADawg83

January 10th, 2011
9:39 am

Sad to say but corruption wins tonight. If Auburn folks can live with themselves more powertothem.

Bull Meacham

January 10th, 2011
9:40 am

TCU are real National Champions. No matter which team wins tonight.

Bull Meacham

January 10th, 2011
9:41 am

Knew before I read it that Tony would pick Auburn. Even though I am a UGA fan, those that call him an SEC homer are right.

Charlie Bama

January 10th, 2011
9:43 am

I’m over it and on-board with continued SEC domination. All the national hype about Oregon winning is starting to rub me the wrong way. Best of Luck to the War Eagles. (And by the way Aubs, don’t think the rest of us aren’t looking forward to your sans-Cam victory lap tour next fall!)

John

January 10th, 2011
9:44 am

War Eagle! Auburn overcomes the baseless rumors and the envy of the other SEC teams and gets the title it was robbed of in 1983 and 2004. This is the greatest day in the history of college football!!

Ster Royd's Big Brother Him

January 10th, 2011
9:44 am

All of you Dawg whiners listen up. If Oregon wins, where does that put the “mighty SEC”? It puts them BELOW the PAC-10. That’s where ! And where does that put UGA’s program ? Firmly in the bottom half of a conference that’s not up to standards with the PAC-10 ! That’s where. Might be in your interest to pull for Auburn and stop whining.

dawgfan

January 10th, 2011
9:45 am

Just Hype?, at what point did I say UGA did a good job blocking this year? I said we did a good job blocking against Nick Fairley you llliterate Barner. The rest of the year we were average at best. I just don’t understand how Fairley is so great if our average offensive line was blocking his azz well. So far we’ve got LSU and Mississippi State as supposedly his big games. Big whoop. Take your SEC homer glasses off for a second and go watch some Oregon film. Oregon’s offense craps bigger that those teams. He will be a complete non-factor tonight, other than his usual late hits and excessive celebrations for the camera.