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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www.twitter.com/MrCFB

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

Big Al

January 10th, 2011
1:26 pm

Randolph!! Anybody who is breathing can get into Allbarn. Going to class is voluntary also. Tough
academic standards for sure. LOL

flash in the pan

January 10th, 2011
1:27 pm

“Sic ‘em DUCKS…woof…woof !!!!!

Tell the truth

January 10th, 2011
1:27 pm

SEC, SEC, SEC, SEC 4-5

Tell the truth

January 10th, 2011
1:28 pm

I’m pulling for Oregon and the FBI!

Nurse Rachet

January 10th, 2011
1:30 pm

Tony Barnhart picking the SEC!!! I am just stunned- stunned I tell ya.

GSU Eagle 91

January 10th, 2011
1:32 pm

Not this time SEC Bandwagoners….
Oregon takes this game 34-27…
SEC goes to 4-6 in bowl games…So much for their supposed “dominance.”

SECWasteManagement

January 10th, 2011
1:33 pm

How does trailing in 8 out of 13 games show toughness? Resiliency maybe, but not toughness.

whitx2

January 10th, 2011
1:39 pm

r.e.

You think we care if you pull for our team, barn boy?

Nurse Rachet

January 10th, 2011
1:41 pm

I am pulling for Mike Slive to be fired from the SEC. He is as big a shill and pimp for the SEC as is Barnhart. I want Tony to tell us how Slive ignoring the existing SEC rule that would have prohibited Newton from playing for any sec Team can be defended. Tell us Tony. Defend the SEC decision- you previously defended the NCAA decision.

Joel

January 10th, 2011
1:49 pm

You actually used the future tense correctly in your headline and then ruined it with “Or does Oregon win the first national championship in its football history?” Does the AJC have editors? You’re a professional writer. Quit destroying the english language with your espnonics.

catlady

January 10th, 2011
1:51 pm

Quack kills!

Tide Rising

January 10th, 2011
1:53 pm

Delbert D,

I missed Cowherd’s comment about his replacement but I can understand why. Greg did very well. Very proud of the guy obviously. If he doesn’t make it on an NFL roster than hopefully he will possibly go into broadcasting. I would think he could get a job as a good backup somewhere in the NFL.

catlady

January 10th, 2011
1:54 pm

Step on the Quack, you break yo mama’s back!

gt4ever

January 10th, 2011
2:03 pm

Oregon blows away the Auburn War eagles and the SEC……….

bamaguy

January 10th, 2011
2:05 pm

Gene Stallings said it in 1992 when Alabama was preparing to play Miami for the National Championship and nobody was giving them a chance. “If you go through the regular SEC season undefeated then win the conference championship you can beat anybody.”

It’s as true today as it was in 1992. Two crystal footballs, two years in a row by two different schools. No other State has even come close to that. Sweet Home Alabama!

ARdawg

January 10th, 2011
2:06 pm

Barnhart is a Gomer

Archie M

January 10th, 2011
2:08 pm

NCAA has definitely made a fool of itself.
Guess they figure the public is pretty darn stupid.

State of Alabama

January 10th, 2011
2:08 pm

We rule the college football world! The state of Georgia? Ha Ha Ha Ha!

moving to mobile

January 10th, 2011
2:09 pm

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.

My son had a full ride at Georgia but my wife and I decided to send him to Auburn and spend and additional $18,000.00 per year out of state fee. WHY? Auburn is just a better school all around. Not even close. WAR EAGLES!!!!!!! Auburn 54-21

Toomer

January 10th, 2011
2:13 pm

LSU and Florida are the only two schools with two balls!

RS Dawg

January 10th, 2011
2:14 pm

mtm What have you been smoking?

catlady

January 10th, 2011
2:18 pm

The NCAA has lost any respect anyone ever held for it. The “uneven” (ahem!) penalties it metes out, the “blurred vision” (cough, cough) it displays, are why no one thinks well of the NCAA any more.

I will cheer for almost anyone from the SEC but Auburn this year. Simply can’t do it.

I think we will soon have the “Cam Newton” rule. It will state that if a “student” athlete is shopped by anyone who legitimately has influence over him, that athlete is immediately ineligible, and all games with that athlete are forfeited. Obviously, a father would have influence, but the neighbor’s babysitter probably would not (depends on her looks and “personality” of course). Whether the “shopping” is successful or not, the athlete is tainted goods.

And no more of this “they will serve their suspensions after the bowl game” crap. The games they played in should be forfeited and they should serve their suspensions immediately.

The NCAAs quest for money has lost it any respect it may have had. Too many bowl games! Too long a bowl season! All games should be over by New Year’s Day. Let’s quit subsidizing this quest for money and importance! Fans, you have a chance to change this! Let the bowl sponsors know!
Take away the power of the NCAA, a thoroughly corrupt institution!

Nurse Rachet

January 10th, 2011
2:18 pm

Toomer FSU has two balls pal.

Buckeye

January 10th, 2011
2:19 pm

Anyone see/hear Bama QB on The Herd today? He gave as good and credible analysis as anyone having studied/played Auburn. Bottom line, Auburn will have a lapse or two of defensive discipline that will cost them.

If I’m an NFL GM, McElroy is high on my draft board. He’s poised, prepared, impressive, can put two sentences together and sharp as a tack – and that was in front of a microphone.

Nurse Rachet

January 10th, 2011
2:20 pm

catlady Agreed catlady. But strip the SEC as well and fire Mike Slive while we are at it.

Gone Fishing

January 10th, 2011
2:20 pm

I hope you are wrong Tony !!

After the way things played out with the controversy re: Newton (I will always believe he’s dirty) and the thug Nick (Un) Fairly, I cant’ root for AU.The SEC office turned it head re: Fairley and it’s Ducks all the way for me.

Go Ducks !!!

carolina

January 10th, 2011
2:21 pm

moving to mobile,
auburn may be a good school, but there is little doubt that they are bending all their academic rules for athletes. i’ve heard some pretty good stories, myself. also find it extremely hard to believe that cecil only wanted money from one school in the country, and that school is mississippi state.

SEC girl

January 10th, 2011
2:21 pm

Tony, the Auburn nation thanks you. I hope you are right. XOXOX

flash in the pan

January 10th, 2011
2:23 pm

GSU: What is inside that “4-6″ (assuming Auburn loses)? Hmmm….. that’s a lot of teams from one conference going to bowls, huh? Why do bowls want SEC teams? Of the bowl games that actually mattered, how did the SEC teams fare? Put that GSU education into overtime and let us know.

War Eagle

January 10th, 2011
2:27 pm

When I started blogging with dawg fans in 2003, we were hoping for a 7-4 or 8-3 season in 2004. We were 14-0, should have played for NC. Today is our justice for 2004, playing for the NC against a very good Oregon team.
Being a member of 1957 Auburn NC team, edging out Ohio State by 6 votes, THE RIDE HAS BEEN GREAT. I am 73 years old battling cancer and hope I can have a picture of me and my nephew who is long snapper for the Tigers, with our championship rings together .WAR EAGLE

Even God in in awe of his mightiest creation, the SEC

January 10th, 2011
2:32 pm

I’m with flash in the pan, GSU.

The bowl games the SEC lost? They didn’t matter, and I’m sure flash in the pan wouldn’t be touting them as victories for the SEC if they had actually won them.

Besides, those teams didn’t play SEC ball on that day. They didn’t use all that SEC speed, which no other players in any other conference have. That’s why you will find only SEC players at the skill positions in the NFL.

Besides, the teams in those 5 losses were far superior to their opponents – the refs gave all those games away. Everybody knows that if those 5 teams had come to play, they would have won by 50.

Delbert D.

January 10th, 2011
2:32 pm

Tide Rising – “Delbert D, I missed Cowherd’s comment about his replacement but I can understand why. ”

Late reply…I was out playing with the dog in the snow. Cowherd said he’s been doing this for 20 years, and never had he interviewed a guy coming out of school that was so poised and provided such in-depth analysis of 2 teams about to play.

Dixie Redcoat Band

January 10th, 2011
2:37 pm

You just know $cam newton is the greatest college football player ever, he can’t be beat.

SEC girl

January 10th, 2011
2:38 pm

Tony,
Auburn nation thanks you for supporting our team, and not listening to the ugly charges against us. You could have been tough with us, and we appreciate your decision to not pursue any story that might take us down. War eagle!

Nurse Rachet

January 10th, 2011
2:39 pm

Even God in in awe of his mightiest creation, the SEC You are just sooooo right. lol

catlady

January 10th, 2011
2:42 pm

Get Quack! Get Quack! Get Quack to where you once belonged!

Buckeye

January 10th, 2011
2:43 pm

War Eagle,

Great story. All the best to you and your nephew.

Edging out Ohio State by four votes in 1957? I believe that would have been 8 Titles for the Buckeyes. So, I guess we are 1-10 against the SEC. :) Tell us, how did you find out the news in 1957?

Toomer

January 10th, 2011
2:43 pm

Nurse Rachet,
FSU fans only have one ball, pal! 1999
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BCS_National_Championship_Game

Buckeye

January 10th, 2011
2:44 pm

Hey ‘Even God..”

Get over yourself.

Sautee Dawg

January 10th, 2011
2:47 pm

Moving to Mobile
Sounds like you need to be moving to Alabama!

Skitty Fritty

January 10th, 2011
2:47 pm

To AU Fans:
How do you explain the article below? I guess a Sociology degree from Auburn is worthless!

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/01/06/auburn-tumbles-from-4th-to-85th-in-football-academics/

Skitty Fritty

January 10th, 2011
2:47 pm

The article doesn’t even have anything to do with $cam. I guess things don’t change on the plains when it comes to cheating.

catlady

January 10th, 2011
2:48 pm

Thank you, Nurse Rachet. I hiss in your general direction! Agreed about the SEC as well. The office has become a nambly, pambly, butt-kissing embarrassment to the schools in the conference.

Even God in in awe of his mightiest creation, the SEC

January 10th, 2011
2:50 pm

Buckeye,
Get over myself? Why, whatever do you mean?

I am assuming by your handle that you are a fan of the team that the refs gave the sugar bowl to, over a much superior Arkansas team.

Consider yourself lucky that the Hogs didn’t play like an SEC team that day, and utilize all that SEC speed, which no other player in any other conference has.

And, in spite of the fact that the refs gave the game away, everybody knows that if Arkansas had come to play, they would have won by 50.

MADDOG

January 10th, 2011
2:54 pm

All you need to know is Auburn is in the national championship tonight and UGA lost to UCF. Everything a UGA hater says matters nada, especially those who don’t understand the NCAA death penalty and are idiotically claiming Auburn will get it, those win the UGA Fan Award for Irrelevancy. UGA fans, keep reaching for that rainbow and Auburn will keep winning you Dream Team players.

War Eagle

Nurse Rachet

January 10th, 2011
2:55 pm

Both the 1993 and the 1999 trophies are crystal footballs

MADDOG

January 10th, 2011
3:00 pm

Buckeye
January 10th, 2011
2:19 pm

Anyone see/hear Bama QB on The Herd today? He gave as good and credible analysis as anyone having studied/played Auburn. Bottom line, Auburn will have a lapse or two of defensive discipline that will cost them.

If I’m an NFL GM, McElroy is high on my draft board. He’s poised, prepared, impressive, can put two sentences together and sharp as a tack – and that was in front of a microphone.

LinkReport this comment

I heard him, very smart kid but he forgot to mention that after scoring 24-0 Alabama was outscored 28 to 3 and lost. He probably doesnt remember it because he was knocked out after Auburn took the lead. Yeah, sorry defense eh?

Alphare

January 10th, 2011
3:00 pm

I cannot believe it, Nathan Deal and Cam Newton take the stage at the same day.

MADDOG

January 10th, 2011
3:04 pm

Now I really hope this game is over early, while I thought the Texas-USC NC game was the greatest I ever saw I’d much rather Auburn win early like the other SEC teams did or how Nebraska did against UF.

And I know I don’t want it to come down to OT and a horrific call like OSU-MIA game or a blocked punt where a player falls on the ball instead of running it in for the easy winning TD with time running out.

Greg McElroy

January 10th, 2011
3:10 pm

maddog,

And what you need to remember is that I have a bcs ring on my finger. You don’t have one beyotch. If, and that’s a big IF you win tonight you will have one. But until then you don’t have one and there aint no guarantee you will get one beyotch. You lucked out in 4 or 5 games and it could be tonight that your luck runs out. Just shut up and be glad that Mark Ingram’s fumble luckily bounced 15 yards all the way down the sideline and didn’t go out of bounds. And just be glad that Trent Richardson dropped a simple 3 yd floater of a td pass. When you’re living on luck sooner or later that luck runs out.