Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Auburn vs Oregon

I've got to be blatantly honest with you. I've been looking forward to this day ever since Alabama took a loss, and it became evident that Auburn was going to have the best chance to represent the SEC in the national championship game. I am an Alabama fan first, and an SEC fan second. I really don't like Oregon, and I hate how much every sports analyst and writer can't seem to stop praising their speed and their "explosiveness" and how they are the best team in the nation, ad nauseum. First let me state, that Oregon is a great team. They do have a lot of quick offensive players, and they are ranked number one in the nation. The question remains, though, can Auburn beat Oregon? Let's take a look at their record shall we?

Strength of schedule doesn't count, I know, but you can measure how talented any undefeated team is by looking at how well other teams have fared against the teams they've beaten. Oregon played New Mexico, Tennessee, Portland State, Arizona State, Washington State, Stanford, UCLA, USCalifornia, Washington, California, Arizona and Oregon State. They've outscored their opponents 529 - 221, meaning an average game score for them is 49 - 18. That's just impressive. I can't deny that. But as you scroll through their opponents you'll notice something interesting. As a whole, Oregon has only played two top ten AP team (Stanford and Arizona) and was ranked at least top 10. Defensively, you can only claim that Stanford was their true defensive test. Stanford's defense allowed 17.8 points per game for their opponents. Oregon, even though they have a considerable number of shutouts, has only managed to allow 18.4.

I don't want to miss the point that Oregon put up 52 points on one of the nations top ten rated defenses. (Check the stats here) Auburn, as a contrasting example, played Alabama (14.1 pts/game) LSU (17.8/game) and Clemson (17.8) and managed to win by seven points or less in each case.

Statistics show that Oregon can put up points, and that tends to make who they're playing one-dimensional, as the other team struggles to keep up with the Duck's offense. Speaking strictly statistically, Oregon should win this game. The only edge I can give to Auburn is they have faced truly stout defenses and beat them on several occasions, while Oregon's closest game came against the Golden Bears, a near loss which came in large part due to the Golden Bears running game shredding the Ducks smaller defense, which really reveals their only true weakness. If Auburn's Cam Newton, who has shown that both his arm and his feet are valid weapons in any situation, can do what he does best, the Tigers may very well be putting a bittersweet end to the Duck's season.

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