Keys For Oregon
Offensively, the biggest challenge will be to control Auburn’s defensive line. Nick Fairley has been an absolute monster all season long from the defensive tackle position as well as Antoine Carter from the defensive end spot. Those two alone have combined for 15 sacks and a whopping 31 tackles for losses. Oregon’s offense is incredibly mobile and fast so this will be key to ensure that Darron Thomas and LaMichael James get off to a fast start. As proven in previous BCS Championship games, a dominant defensive line can be the difference (see Troy Smith against Florida circa January 2007). Auburn’s defense is 10th in college football against the run so the zone option reads will be crucial to ensure that they can set up the pass. Balance is a huge part of Oregon’s offense so they need to keep this. Oregon also needs to dictate the pace and use their high tempo offense to gas out Auburn. For how physical Auburn’s defense is, I have a hard time believing that they will be able to keep up with Oregon, especially if they can get them gassed. Defensively, Oregon needs to keep Cam Newton in the pocket and try to limit his rushing yards. One thing I took away from the Alabama – Auburn game is that on early downs, Alabama blitzed often to take away the zone read and blow it up. Oregon needs to follow this model of success to stop both Newton, Dyer, McCalebb, and Fannin. While Newton is the best runner, Auburn has a stable of capable and solid running backs. If they can get Auburn in long 3rd down situations, they can have a more effective defense at keeping Cam Newton contained. If they can’t, the they need to make sure that the defensive ends like Brandon Bair set the edge and funnel Newton towards the middle.
Keys For Auburn
Offensively, Auburn needs to get the run going. A huge part of their offense is the zone read; in fact I’d wager that it’s the key to their offensive success. If they can get the run going, they can keep Oregon’s offense off the field and can also set up the play action pass which opens up Auburn’s big play opportunities. If they can run the ball well, it will also leave them in situations where the defense won’t be able to key into whether it’s a pass or run. Another thing I would like Auburn’s offense to do is be unpredictable. If it’s 3rd and 1, everyone is going to expect Newton to run a QB sneak or run. Instead, use that to go deep with a play action pass or a misdirection run. This could be huge in the goal line where Auburn should be able to run boot legs on Oregon all day. Defensively, Auburn has to win the turnover battle and get Oregon to make mistakes. It’s the easiest way to kill a drive as I’m not confident Auburn can consistently contain Oregon’s offense. Instead they should aim to force errant throws or try and strip James when he’s running from the ball. While Auburn has a good defensive line, I question their linebackers and secondary. A big part of this will be having Fairley get after the quarterback and force bad decisions. If they can get after Thomas, they can also keep Oregon from running deep routes and hopefully shorten the playing field. If not, Oregon will stretch the field vertically as they have all season long. Lastly, Auburn needs to be physical. They need to get in the Oregon receiver’s faces and jam them all day. Disrupting routes and the timing of Oregon’s offense will go a long way when all is said and done.
While I really want Oregon to win this game, Cam Newton eerily reminds me of Vince Young when he was at Texas which is how I can see this one ending. I think Oregon will take the lead with a field goal towards the end , but Newton’s running will be the way he leads them to victory in my opinion. It wouldn’t be the first time he lead Auburn to an epic comeback win. It pains me to say it, but I think this is Auburn’s year to win it all (unfortunately).
Auburn – 42
Oregon – 38