The Oregon Ducks look to end the SEC’s reign as the national champion representative when they challenge the Auburn Tigers in the 2011 Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. Two great rushing games and two great offenses. Defensive grudge match?
The early spread on this game is Tigers (-3). Here are seven of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper’s Picks. All stats can be found at sources listed below.
#1 Battle Tested
The Auburn Tigers have played in a number of competitive games this season. They’ve had six match-ups that were determined by one possession or less, one that went into overtime, some near upsets from the Clemson Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats, and a 24 point comeback against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl a couple weeks ago.
The Oregon Ducks have only been challenged once late in games, and that was against the California Golden Bears in a 15-13 victory. The Ducks did show that they could slow the pace of the game down with a game ending drive to escape with a victory, but it was a very suspect Golden Bears team who they should have blown out by halftime. They were also down to Stanford 31-24 heading into the second half before winning 52-31.
#2 Underrated Defenses
The talk is of the offenses. However, both teams have some quality defensive components. The Tigers have a solid front seven to challenge the Ducks rushing game, but their secondary is suspect. The Ducks are 14th in the FBS in points allowed, giving up only 18.4 per game.
#3 SEC Dominance
The SEC has won the past four national championships with the Florida Gators, LSU Tigers, and Alabama Crimson Tide. Arguably, the SEC Championship has often featured the two best teams in college football during that time.
#4 Oregon Ducks on Another Level?
The Ducks have been dominant… maybe too much so. Only one of their twelve victories has been less than 17 points. They defeated 11-1 Stanford 52-31 after outscoring them 28-0 in the second half and also upended the Arizona Wildcats and USC Trojans (above .500 teams) by 19+.
Can anyone stop the Ducks when they’re on?
#5 Second Half Advantage?
The Ducks second half dominance has been highlighted against Arizona (34-10), Stanford (28-0), and Tennessee (35-0). They were tied or trailing at the first half in all these games before exploding in the second half. If the Tigers need a comeback, can they get handle the Ducks second half adjustments?
#6 Oregon Ducks vs. Andrew Luck
The Ducks have played another Heisman trophy candidate when they match-ed up against Andrew Luck of Stanford. Luck is an entirely different quarterback than Newton as he’s a pure pocket passer with tremendous instincts. The Ducks held him to 29/46 for 341 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Luck was blanked during the second half after getting the Cardinals up 21-3 in the first quarter.
#7 Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama Rushing Game
The Auburn Tigers defense was successful in containing the rushing game of the Crimson Tide, holding Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to a combined twenty carries for sixty yards. They also held LSU’s Stevan Ridley to 37 yards on twelve carries.
The SEC has been the national champion representative for the past four seasons. The SEC is often considered as the most competitive conference in college football. The SEC champion is usually going to be favored over the Pac-10 champion unless an undefeated USC is involved, and even then could be. This is the case with Auburn being favored over Oregon.
This is a very weird scenario. The Ducks have dominated everyone outside California, yet they’re the underdog. The underdog isn’t supposed to be the team you say, “Are they battle tested? Can they play in close games?” Well… they can against sub .500 teams, and they can comeback from a first quarter deficit against Standford.
But can they control Cam Netwon in the fourth quarter of a close game?
Cam Newton has had so much media negativity thrown at him, but he’s persevered. Whether he’s clean or not, I’m impressed with his composure. I can’t see the Ducks defense holding him during the fourth quarter unless they get out to a substantial lead. I’m actually expecting a defensive match-up here, so Auburn should be in it. I think Oregon will lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Cam Newton will prove why he is (or should be) the Heisman and makes some highlight reel plays.
Auburn Tigers 31, Oregon Ducks 27
As a bonus, the current total is 74. Combined, these teams give up less than 43 points per game. The defenses are getting overlooked in this game because of the dynamic offenses. Both teams have top six rushing attacks that will shorten the game, solid front sevens that’ll create plays, and sometimes get off to slow starts. I’d expect both coaches to be prepared for one another’s offenses and a game that won’t reach this total. Go under.
Picks against the Spread: Auburn Tigers (-3)
Straight: Auburn Tigers
Cooper’s Picks, December 7 2010.
Auburn Tigers ESPN Clubhouse. December 7, 2010.
Oregon Ducks ESPN Clubhouse. December 7, 2010.
Alabama and Auburn 2010 Box Score. December 7, 2010.