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

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
10:36 am

anyone seen the latest line on tonight’s game?

Dandy Dawg

January 10th, 2011
10:38 am

We should pull for Auburn, just like we would expect them to do if we were in the game. As for Cam, nothing has been proven. So we should have nothing to say. The sad thing, that many of us miss, is that this whole episode reflects on the SEC. To bumpkins in the rest of the country, we are all cheaters becuase of this. If AU wins, the rumors will taint not only them, but all of us in the SEC. Let’s hope the truth comes out. I will support Auburn, until that happens. Go Tigers!

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
10:38 am

3rdn8………………..My guess is Kirby……….This is why….gonna take a big chunk of money, say 4.5 mil per to get a NAME in Athens, and the guy in Charge, Adams, with a huge ego himself, ain’t gonna let that happen. He cares about being competitive, not winning championships. Some on here will scream bull on here, But by the fact Mark is coming back say’s a lot. The world is full of FINE men, but this Georgia football team has been in decline for 3 years. Ask Miami,Maryland and Michigan. They all took action.

Sautee Dawg

January 10th, 2011
10:38 am

SEC is OVERRATED, You seem to have forgotten the Pac-10 player punching the player of an opposing team on National TV last season. Most of our fights in the SEC are during the game!!!
Every school has players in trouble every season, YOU read what you wan’t to read and HEAR what you wan’t to hear. YOU should try checking some of the local papers close to some of the other schools. Next Season why don’t you check out the local at Souther Cal.
Might suprise you.

vannie

January 10th, 2011
10:39 am

Scam Hater, why ever did you marry her????? Must have been in a year GA won the game, because that’s the only time you haters say anything positive about an opponent, especially Auburn. Good luck with the marriage.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
10:42 am

JB at home

I think UGA would do well with Kirby Smart. He looks and acts like a HC. He’s a tough competitor, and a good recruiter. Smart, Fisher, and Muschamp all seem to be cut from the same cloth.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
10:43 am

Any Vols on here that can comment on your recruiting ? How’s Derek doing with plenty of time this year?

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
10:47 am

Kirby has four things going for him…..He’s a Georgia guy. He’s been around someone who knows how it’s done. He’s a good recruiter. With him, Georgia gets tougher,meaner and more physical real quick.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
10:47 am

JB at home

HC conversation continued………

I’ve always thought the UGA coaching job should be the best in the SEC. Georgia is a great state for high school football. UGA really doesn’t have to share the talent with another instate program (Bama and AU fight over a talent pool roughly half the size of Georgia’s). Great facilities, and a solid fanbase….the right coach could compete with UF and AU every year, and win half or more.

willdave

January 10th, 2011
10:48 am

I have seen the SEC teams dominate this BCS title game so lopsidedly over the past few years that I fully expect Auburn to win tonight. And don’t be surprised if the Tigers just blow the Ducks right off the field. The SEC has proven that it has the far superior talent in college football right now.

Silver Britches, Red Panties

January 10th, 2011
10:50 am

Arrogant
Ugly
Bigmouth
Uneducated
Redneck
No-counts.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
10:50 am

I don’t know if Kirby could win a National Championship at Georgia, but he could make it where people dread playing us again.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
10:51 am

willdave

have to disagree….at least a bit.

The SEC has been underwhelming this bowl season. So far, only Bama and MSU have looked dominant. LSU played well in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th qtrs. UF gutted one out.

That’s it. The rest of the conference really looked bad in their bowls.

UGASlobberknocker

January 10th, 2011
10:52 am

Wow! I am impressed by the historians on this blog. The blogger above is correct, the fifth amendment guarantees trial by jury of peers , liberty, etc. but does not have that specific term. The origin of the term “Guilty until proven Innocent “is not known..though it dates back into mid millineum England and also was used by many in the arguments for the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights way back in the day. I think Munson was only in his third year then.. so I stand corrected (or exposed since I already knew this).

That said, and semantics aside..I hope you haters here aren’t ever falsely accused of a crime and then judged by the same philosophy you exhibit here. You would be in some deep crap.

Since I refuse to argue with good Dawg fans, can we at least agree that until anything is proven, that whining by other school fans seems self serving? I believe it is better to wait til the facts are known, then pile on big time..until then. silence is classy and golden.

Huh?

January 10th, 2011
10:56 am

I agree that it is “classy” to refrain from complaining about camgate. That said, the First Amendment is an important part of the BOR as well.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
10:56 am

3rdn8….. You are correct….look around the SEC. Pick the top 5 players FROM GEORGIA playing for other teams. Over a four year recruiting period, put those 20 players in Athens with a top notch coaching staff. You get us in the hunt most years.

DawginLex

January 10th, 2011
10:58 am

slobberknocker,

Pretty sure Munson loaned lunch money to Moses in 3rd grade

Kay

January 10th, 2011
10:58 am

Quack! Quack!
Go Oregon!!!!!!

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
10:59 am

JB at home

I’d bet that if Smart is the HC, nobody will want to play in Athens

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
10:59 am

We’ve stunk since Munson retired. Anyone noticed?

Paul N Destin

January 10th, 2011
11:00 am

Auburn will win this game. The Cecil and Cam issue is the least of AU’s problems with the NCAA folks. The Auburn folks have taken cheating to a new level and that makes SMU look like 1st graders. Tubberville tried his best to control the program while he was coaching but he had alot of stuff going on that even he couldn’t control and that is why the folks with the money wanted him gone!!! Now the money folks are running the show and that is why the HC is in place at AU. The ghetto twins are running the recruiting and almost every program in the SEC knows about the pay for play scheme at the plains. These folks with the money at AU didn’t fall off the applecart yesterday and they know how to spread the money because it started in 1982. The have been caught by accident but ole karma has a way of getting it done in strange ways and it will be done however it will take a little more time due to the FBI is still expanding the gambling and bank failure investigation. You need to think in reverse on this such as don’t look at the frontdoor and the Cam issue because it’s coming from from the backdoor. Football is just a small part of this investigation but it will be more than enough to whack the Tigers. The NCAA will be faced with a huge challenge money wise (legal fees) and manpower wise once the Feds are done with their side of the probe. The NCAA will most likely take the less expensive path and just go for the slushfund to hang Auburn. The SEC would be better off without a program such as Auburn unless the Gov of Alabama removes these thugs and jock sniffers currently on the BOT at Auburn. The inferiority complex these folks at Auburn and they fight it each and everyday.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
11:00 am

My thoughts 3rdn8…….Of course, like Florida, The OC hire would be real important.

RICK O

January 10th, 2011
11:01 am

Please tell me that are responsible reporters with enough guts to get to the bottom of the Newton’s “pay for play” scheme. There is more to this story than has been presented to the public, and it is not okay to just forget about it, like it never happened.

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:02 am

3rdN8,
You’re correct about the SEC’s showing in bowls so far. The East has been PATHETIC. My Gators were lucky to escape with a win. Took 5 ints from PSU’s QB to get the W. Hopefully, Auburn can get the win.

MikeP

January 10th, 2011
11:03 am

Auburn is 13-0 and playing for the National Championship! Cam Newton won the Heisman, Nick Fairley won the Lombardi award, Gus Malzahn won the Broyles award as the nation’s best assistant coach and Gene Chizik is National Coach of the Year.

It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:04 am

Folks,
Give the Camgate story a rest. It’s over. Nothing found to be going on at Auburn. Jealousy is VERY unbecoming……especially from grown men!

Sautee Dawg

January 10th, 2011
11:05 am

Good read in the NYTimes on Sunday about Lowder at Auburn and his past expenditures!
And who should keep quiet and who should not! When to speak and when not to!

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
11:06 am

Paul……………That is the story that’s become famous…true or not, who knows, but time will tell.
I’ve never seen a major football program with that much “outside” interference. This Bank deal with the FBI is REAL. What else the FBI found up to now is rumor. It is a FACT that the Victory land guy, Dye, and one other figure involved Were ALL the board of Louder’s bank.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:08 am

Beast from the East

agree re: the Newton story. Personally, I think Newton’s a egocentric thug…..but that is only my OPINION. I really know nothing about the guy, other than what I see on TV.

It’s a shame that the Newton story has distracted from what the other 90+ kids on that team did this year.

The AU football TEAM has had a great year…hope it continues tonight.

Skitty Fritty

January 10th, 2011
11:10 am

Auburn should win, they are the best team money can buy.

Also, what a great place for a football player to get a Sociology degree.

Wonder when AU will get SMUed?

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:11 am

3rdN8,
Yeah, he appears to be a “me” type guy, but he sure can play some football. Regardless, Auburn should be proud of what they’ve accomplished on the field this year.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:14 am

Skitty Fritty

You may want to check into the AL.com Crimson Tide forum. There are about 75 people on there that have talked about “$cam Newton” nonstop, 24/7, for about three months now.

The claim to be Alabama fans, but I think they’re too warped to know who they are.

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:15 am

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:04 am
Folks,
Give the Camgate story a rest. It’s over. Nothing found to be going on at Auburn. Jealousy is VERY unbecoming……especially from grown men!

You’re right, but it has been confirmed now that they’re still looking. Even still, won’t matter for tonight. I will personally be expecting an Oregon loss but hoping for an Oregon win.

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:17 am

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:08 am
Beast from the East

agree re: the Newton story. Personally, I think Newton’s a egocentric thug…..but that is only my OPINION. I really know nothing about the guy, other than what I see on TV.

It’s a shame that the Newton story has distracted from what the other 90+ kids on that team did this year.

The AU football TEAM has had a great year…hope it continues tonight.

Maybe so, but without Cam they lose quite a few along the way. Can you ever remember a situation like this where a guy on his third school stops by for a year and makes it to a MNC game? Surreal.

MikeP

January 10th, 2011
11:21 am

Paul in Destin: I see you have been reading the LSU blog they call “TigerPoop” or some such. All that is BS, a typical bait-and switch article done to the level of a sophomore majoring in creative writing.

The gambling investigation ended in October. The FBI turned over all findings to the prosecutors and the prosecution in the case has asked the court for a trial date. That was verified weeks ago on every TV news station in Alabama.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but do try to get yourself current. If the FBI had anything to turn over to anybody concerning Auburn, it would have been done well BEFORE the NCAA declared Cam Newton eligible, which was the first week in December.

Find another thing to hope for. You can always pray that Cam Newton will break a leg or Coach Chizik will leave for another job so he will quit building a powerhouse at Auburn.

Scam hater

January 10th, 2011
11:22 am

scam hater to hey scam hater….last laugh is when you guys hand the trophy back!!!

War damm eagle then….right??

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:22 am

BAMA Dude,
No doubt that Cam has been the one that’s put them over the top, but the rest of the team has really improved as the season has progressed. His play has really seemed to elevate the entire team.

AUinGA

January 10th, 2011
11:23 am

IF Auburn loses tonight, it will be because Oregon showed up with a superior game plan, executed that plan well, and played great. And, IF THAT happens, Auburn supporters will be the first to admit it. I have been amazed for 40 years at how bitter UGA “fans” can be if another team beats them, especially if their butts get kicked!
Before another “s”Cam comment is made, somebody first tell me where Hershel’s red Trans-am came from!

Paul Stephens

January 10th, 2011
11:24 am

RICK O,
I don’t think the NCAA is going to do anything further. Too much money involved. NCAA is as crooked as Auburn, in my opinion.

juice sourcer

January 10th, 2011
11:24 am

Two reasons Oregon wins..1) They have better uniforms, 2) It’s time for the SEC to lose…they can’t keep winning every year. Bet the house.

juice sourcer

January 10th, 2011
11:26 am

Oh and a 3rd…a team that almost lost to Clemson can’t possibly win the National Championship…which it’s not by the way….just another bowl game.

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:27 am

MikeP, I wouldn’t be so sure about that. The NCAA was interviewing the contractors that worked on Cecil’s church the week of Christmas. There are no new revelations worth discussing, but it’s hardly over for the Barn.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:28 am

MikeP

I think Chizik is building a powerhouse at AU. Unlike many Bama fans (and even some AU fans), I’ve been impressed with the way Chizik has conducted his business since arriving.

I look for the Iron Bowl to be a bubble-knocker every year, and I’m glad of it.

I’d venture a guess that the AU and UA programs will continue to be evenly matched over the next 5 or 6 years.

Bama fans who were thinking (this time last year) that Saban was going to dominate AU, and the SEC were delusional. AU fans who are now thinking the same thing about Chizik, are delusional as well.

Scam hater

January 10th, 2011
11:28 am

hey mikeP…you are way off base on this one bro!
The FBI will not give “one scintilla” of information to the SEC or the NCAA.
The Bobby Lowder case is paramount…not Scam to the feds.
So went the trial is over in 3-4 years then and only then will the feds “serve up Scam”

War Eagle bro!

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:28 am

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:22 am
BAMA Dude,
No doubt that Cam has been the one that’s put them over the top, but the rest of the team has really improved as the season has progressed. His play has really seemed to elevate the entire team.

Agreed. Of course, if his play elevated the play of others, and he hadn’t been there, then…

SmileyZ

January 10th, 2011
11:30 am

Justin

January 10th, 2011
11:32 am

Oregon will win this one.

Why?
1. James gets 150 rushing a game average
2. Oregon better at to’s than Auburn

wesleywhatwhat

January 10th, 2011
11:34 am

more SEC brownnosing? sad.

tony barnhart becomes less and less relevant every day he continues with this line of BS.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:36 am

juice sourcer

wouldn’t put a lot of stock in the AU-Clemson game. The AU team (and Newton) have improved dramatically since the early part of the season.

If I were looking for reasons to think that Oregon can win, I’d look at the AU-UGA game.

UGA was a very mediocre (sorry UGA fans) team this year, and they played AU straightup for 3+ quarters. But then….Cal (a very bad team) played Oregon straightup for almost 4 quarters.

LakeDawg

January 10th, 2011
11:37 am

Auburn is a bunch of dirty, cheap-shot taking cheaters. But I’m pulling for them anyway. :)