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

Beast from the East

January 10th, 2011
11:39 am

My prediction…….Barners 41- Ducks 24. Close game until midway through the 4th quarter.

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:39 am

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.

Yeah cause, y’know, the Barn isn’t favored to win by pretty much everybody.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:41 am

In defense of Barnhart

after 5 1/2 months of CFB…..everyone seems to be running out of things to say….Barnhart ran out of topics about a month ago, but I’m sure his contract requires him to submit a column.

The again, I think his writing has suffered since he started spending so much time on TV.

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:45 am

3rdN8, what’s your take on the Calloway kid?

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:46 am

After a somewhat disappointing season for the Tide, I have to admit that an AU win tonight won’t thrill me all that much. But….I’m pulling for the Tigers anyway.

That being said, it would be nice if there was an event to offset a Tiger win. Maybe TrishaDisha will catch the clap in Glendale.

Dirty Rotten Birds

January 10th, 2011
11:47 am

5 reasons? I can name about 200,000 reasons. You can paint over the stain but the stink is still there. If Auburn is winning, they must be cheating. Just check history.

Dirty Dawg

January 10th, 2011
11:48 am

Posted this someplace else, but this ones a better place…

Hearing that the AU fans are flocking to the game because they just ‘can’t miss out on this’, reminds me of the momentary ‘thrill’ I get when I start to check a lottery ticket – ‘Gee, wonder how I’ll react if I win that $300 million?’…then I find out I didn’t win and move on. Now Auburn fans have a chance to actually experience ‘winning the lottery’ and, almost, everything that goes with it – the anticipation, the event and the joy of celebration – the only difference is that it’ll take a lot longer for them to realize that they actually didn’t win it after all. That’ll come when the NCAA, the SEC, and, who knows, probably the FBI, tells the world that ‘you-know-who, took you-know-what, from ‘you know’ and all the accolades and championships are rescinded. But look on the bright side AU fans, you’ll have had the ‘experience’ – that’s more than most of the rest of us will have had.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:48 am

BAMA dude

I wasn’t all that surprised that Calloway switched. I read a blurb somewhere (Anthony Bone maybe) about a month ago that Calloway was waivering on his commitment.

I do think it made Saban look bad for Calloway to pull that stunt on national tv. I thought it was bush league, and am now glad he’s AU’s problem.

Gumby

January 10th, 2011
11:50 am

You forgot reason 6. Auburn like the Yankees spends the most money on buying players. Quack Attck!!

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:51 am

3rdN8, I have heard that he was upset about Bama’s taking Hart and still recruiting Crowell hard. Apparently the kid, despite being 6′1″ with some time to grow yet, is hell-bent on playing RB even though he’s a top-5 LB.

Texas Duck

January 10th, 2011
11:51 am

At the BCS…crowds are amazing…We Ducks sure appreciate all the Tuscaloosa supporters…hear the Duck Shirts are selling well…Even seeing Roll Tide in Green and Yellow and Roll Duck…New Battle Call…WAR DUCK !!! It’s going to be a great game day.

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:53 am

BAMA dude

I’m pretty sure that you’re right as to his reasons. He complained that Saban was gonna make him play defense.

I think Bama will be fine at the RB position. I just hope Saban fills out the class with some top DLs, and OLs

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
11:54 am

Our Emergency Director here in the Augusta area is calling for power outages later in the afternoon or evening…. Geez, I hope not….don’t want to miss this game.

Savannah, GA

January 10th, 2011
11:55 am

Tony Barnhart did’nt include Todd Grantham
as one of the best defensive minds in college football.

I agree Tony.

Jealousy Smells

January 10th, 2011
11:56 am

Wonder if the rest of the SEC envies Auburn’s team as much as UGA does ? Of course, I’d be envious too if I finished 6-7.

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
11:59 am

3rdN8

January 10th, 2011
11:53 am
BAMA dude

I’m pretty sure that you’re right as to his reasons. He complained that Saban was gonna make him play defense.

Love that about Saban. He’s up front with the kid that if you’re coming to Bama, you’re playing defense because it’s what you’re best at. Cheez-it seems to let the inmates run the asylum a bit. As far as linemen go, loving the three juco kids (as long as the Vile transfer can keep himself out of trouble) and Cyrus.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
12:00 pm

I wasn’t Jealousy of Auburn the prior 4 years when we smacked them pretty good. But, They put themselves a pretty good team together and Mark Richt has fallen off the end of the earth, but this too shall pass, and with 4 OL ,Cam and Fairley gone, we’ll see you in Athens next year, even toothless as you’ll be.

moving to mobile

January 10th, 2011
12:01 pm

It will not be close. I think they will pull away just like they did to South Carolina, and Arkansas. Auburn 54-21. WAR EAGLE!!!!!!

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
12:02 pm

JB, don’t forget your initial-sake playing MLB. He’s gone too.

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
12:06 pm

Auburn holding Duck’s to 21 points with that D…….Dream on

KR

January 10th, 2011
12:06 pm

Looking forward to a great game tonight. My biggest concern is that Georgia Power is able to keep the power on all night long…

Auburn as a team has improved dramatically over the first few games this year. They have shown the ability to come back against seemingly insurmountable deficits and to play even stronger towards the end of the game than they did at the beginning of the game.

Win or lose, I’ll still fly my Auburn flag tomorrow and I’ll still support my alma mater.

WAR EAGLE!

JB at home

January 10th, 2011
12:07 pm

As you should KR

1eyedJack

January 10th, 2011
12:08 pm

I’ll pull for Awbun because of Conference Pride and for no other reason.

What’s the over/under whether Fairley commits or instigates at least one personal foul?

moving to mobile

January 10th, 2011
12:10 pm

Cal held Oregon to 17 points and they don’t have Farley.

Mike Bobo 17 INT

January 10th, 2011
12:10 pm

Herschel Talker

Totally agree with you on the Tony Barnhart comment about a UGA clown. He is such an SEC and UGA homie is not even funny.

Folks like Tony do not understand or care about football west of the Mississippi, and Auburn could have the edge, but underestimating the Oregon offense and Chip Kelly is a fatal mistake, and quite frankly I believe Cheese Nip will get outflanked by Chip and the Oregon offense.

The question is if Oregon does pull this off and Auburn loses, will Tony come back on the site and man up that the Pac-10 is the better program? Also, you do realize this is the first Pac-10 vs. SEC BCS title game and if Oregon wins, it wil be 1-0 Pac 10 vs. the SEC.

Mike Bobo 17 INT

January 10th, 2011
12:11 pm

Even if Auburn wins, it is going to be like the old Fram Oil Filter commercials….”pay me now, or pay me later” regarding Newton’s investigation.

Mike Bobo 17 INT

January 10th, 2011
12:18 pm

One Reason Oregon could beat Auburn….Auburn’s secondary, or lack thereof….

David Granger

January 10th, 2011
12:19 pm

Sure can’t disagree with you here, Mark…I think Auburn should definitely be favored.

But there are a few reasons why Oregon has a chance:
1. Oregon’s offensive pace is brutal. It’s no small coincidence that they’ve got basically two offensive lines that play about equally as much. The Ducks’ offensive line is not as physical as the Auburn defense, but in the fourth quarter they might not have to be.
2. Oregon has a good, varied offense…not as explosive as Auburn, but they can definitely score in many different ways.
3. Auburn’s defensive line has been the key to its defense, and they like to do a little “woofing” after making a good play. One reason Fairley has been accused of being a dirty player is that he’ll just lay on a QB after a sack and jawbone at him a little before letting the guy up…and if the entire Oregon offense is trying to jump up and get back set for another play, that will be more obvious than it has in a lot of SEC games. And things like that could get called for Unsportsmanlike Behavior. And a couple of penalties in the wrong place…especially after you’ve made a good play…can really turn a game around. (We Georgia fans have learned that the hard way over the last few years.)
4. The Oregon secondary has been an NFL factory over the last couple of years, and Cliff Harris is probably another first-rounder.
5. In a couple of key areas…receiving corps, overall defense, kicking coverage…the Ducks lack “wow” factor, but play very solidly as a team…steady, tough, and quick. Everybody plays his assignment, and they rarely allow big plays.
6. Oregon’s punting is more consistent than Auburn’s, which might make a difference in a close game.
7. Oregon’s returners are outstanding. Two of ‘em have track-star speed, and the other (Harris) is an adventure. He bobbles balls, misplays ‘em, makes bad decisions…and is an electrifying return man who can change a game when he gets the ball in his hands.

Pulling for the Tigers, and expect them to win…but I do believe Oregon will give ‘em a game.

Give It Up Gomer!

January 10th, 2011
12:19 pm

Bama Dude give it a rest already. You are only looking forward to next season to try to distract from what’s going on tonight. You were ranked #1 in the preseason, now you have to sit back and watch your arch-rival play for the NC! You keep crowing about your recruiting for next year, yet Chizik has closed the gap big-time with Callaway, Bray, Frost, etc. You say Cam will be gone next year, yet Bama just lost their QB, top RB, and top WR!! No one knows what next year will bring, but we can all agree that AU is playing for the title in a season that was supposed to be your “resurrection of the glory days”. You are so jealous it still stings…..GIVE IT UP!!!

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
12:20 pm

Mike Bobo 17 INT

January 10th, 2011
12:18 pm
One Reason Oregon could beat Auburn….Auburn’s secondary, or lack thereof….

Except the Ducks can’t pass.

GT Fan ...

January 10th, 2011
12:20 pm

I honestly forgot the NAT CHAMP GAME was tonight … thanks alot BCS & NCAA, you’re ruining D-1 football!

Oh, and nice precident you set in the Sugar Bowl allowing the 5 OSU players to play!!

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
12:20 pm

Info on the Playoff PAC:

“The lawyers behind the committee, Playoff PAC, seek a playoff system in college football more akin to the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament.

“They are not just producing attack ads; they are also going after the bowls’ finances. In complaints to the Internal Revenue Service, they have raised questions involving three of the four bowls that make up the five-game Bowl Championship Series about interest-free loans, high salaries, lobbying payments and lavish perks for some bowl executives. They have also made accusations about illegal campaign contributions.”

Partial quote for NYTimes dot com Sports College Football article today

BAMA dude

January 10th, 2011
12:21 pm

Bama Dude give it a rest already. You are only looking forward to next season to try to distract from what’s going on tonight.

Nah, it’s because there are other Bama fans on here and recruiting season is what we’re focused on now. Carry on.

David Granger

January 10th, 2011
12:23 pm

“David Granger Sure can’t disagree with you here, Mark.
12:19 pm”

OOPS…excuse me, Mr. Barnhart. Thought I was arguing with Mark Bradley again..

dawg 777

January 10th, 2011
12:23 pm

OREGEN DUCKS WILL WIN, CAUSE OF AUBURN LONG LAYOFF, AUBURN HAS STARTED SLOW AND SLUGGISH THE BEGINNING OF THE 2010 SEASON ALMOST LOSING 3 GAMES . AUBURN WILL START SLOW AND SLUGGISH IN TONIGHT GAME WITH OREGON. OREGON WILL JUMP ON AUBURN WITH A BIG LEAD.AUBURN WILL NEVER RECOVER. 46 OREGON- AUBURN 38.

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
12:28 pm

David Granger – Jeff Maehl has been the go-to receiver for the Ducks in the 3 games I’ve watched.

Tide Rising

January 10th, 2011
12:35 pm

I think Nick Fairley is going to be a very disruptive force in the Oregon backfield and he will be the difference in the game by putting Oregon in several 2nd and 3rd and long situations with sacks and or tackles for losses. He alone will be the difference maker in stopping several Oregon drives. As for Oregon’s frenetic pace I don’t see that as being a problem whatsoever since AU also runs the hurry up.

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
12:38 pm

Watching Greg McElroy on ESPNU “The Herd.” That guy is a natural for a job as a commentator.

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
12:42 pm

The astute Mr. McElroy likes Oregon, 41-31.

Tide Rising

January 10th, 2011
12:43 pm

Bama dude and 3rdn8,

I’m not to worried about recruiting. Things are going great and it looks like we will end up with the nation’s top rated class for the 3rd time in 4 years. Worse we can do is 2nd.

We’re loaded at linebacker so losing Brent Calloway doesn’t hurt one iota. As for him playing rb he’s not nearly as good as Crowell if we get him and not nearly as good as Dee Hart either.

Don’t know if you guys saw it but Hart was the US Army all star game MVP and the US Army player of the year. We’ll be loaded there with Trent Richardson, Dee Hart, and Eddie Lacy is something else. Funniest thing in the bowl season had to be Eddie Lacy bolting through the middle of the Mich St defense for a 62 yd td run and looking back several times to see if any Mich st players were around him. I think he was shocked that he just blew them all away. Too funny.

Tide Rising

January 10th, 2011
12:45 pm

Delbert D.,

I saw it too. McElroy looked good, presented himself very well, and even though we all knew he was going to pick the quack attack he at least didn’t sound overtly biased.

Hey Auburn

January 10th, 2011
12:46 pm

Duck You!

Shucky ducky QUACK!! QUACK!!

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
12:49 pm

Tide Rising – Did you catch Cowherd’s comment about getting 40-plus emails and “I think I just interviewed my replacement”?

Gold and White

January 10th, 2011
12:49 pm

Auburn is the best team money can buy!

Randolph

January 10th, 2011
1:02 pm

It is interesting. Wide receiver Deangelo Benton tries for two years to get into LSU, and can’t qualify academically, but then he gets right in to Auburn after Chizik arrives in town. Auburn academics have really gone into the ditch.

War Damn Eagle

January 10th, 2011
1:10 pm

Do you think there will ever be a TV interview with the guy Cecil was using to negoiate his shopping (Kenny Rogers)? I’ve been kind of surprised at the lack of coverage by the media. No one seems very interested in finding out the truth. Why?
How about a live interview with Cecil? Or maybe with the Miss State coaches who met with Cecil? Or John Bond?
Pretty strange.

whitney houston

January 10th, 2011
1:18 pm

Quack is whack.

Thomas Di

January 10th, 2011
1:18 pm

NCAA has no backbone!

DawginLex

January 10th, 2011
1:19 pm

Randolph,

There is a reason that many kids from Georgia who can’t get into UGA because of the stiff competition created by the HOPE Grant end up going to Auburn.

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
1:19 pm

Buck Belue did a radio interview with Bond shortly after the story broke.