Well ladies and gentlemen, let the show begin. After all of the highs and lows of the 2010-2011 college football season, only two still have business to finish. A season of drama, hype, disappointment and controversy ends Monday night in Glendale, Arizona when the #1 Auburn Tigers will take on the #2 Oregon Ducks. With pride, glory and the coveted title of “champion” on the line, expect the passion and fireworks that make college football great.
The scenarios have been drubbed into the heads of every fan across the nation and the world. “If Auburn does this…if Oregon can do that…what if Nick Fairley eats someone alive?” It has all been said, so there is no need to repeat the babblings of the professionals and experts. So why do it?
A lot has been said about the respective schemes, but the truth is that in games like this with such hype and excitement surrounding the teams it all comes down to fundamentals and who doesn’t make the big mistakes. Neither team is going to stop the other; the best they can hope for is to contain one another. But the team that does the best job of not beating themselves will win the game, end of story. Here are the key areas that each team must execute if they want to call themselves national champions.
Both teams feed off of momentum, and nothing keeps a team out of rhythm like penalties. Oregon in particular has struggled with penalties, especially on the offensive line. The only thing that may be able to stop these prolific offenses is themselves. Throughout the season the only times these offensive units have been stopped is when they penalize themselves and get into obvious passing situations. Controlling the adrenaline and excitement of the game will be vital for both teams, or they will be digging themselves out of holes.
Neither team is strong in the field goal game, and they both would rather go for it on 4th down than punt. Oregon’s Cliff Harris has game-changing ability as an All-American punt returner. Not allowing big plays or mistakes on special teams is always a vital part of bowl games. Don’t be surprised to see some fireworks and tricks either.
The Ducks have accumulated 35 turnovers this season, 2nd best in the nation. But if Darron Thomas and the Ducks offense turn the ball over their defense is not physical enough to keep Auburn out of the endzone with their backs against the wall. Auburn is a bit more solid all around, not getting a ton of turnovers but not allowing many either. To win the game Oregon will probably need to at least win the turnover battle and likely need to be +2 in that category.
Cam Newton and LaMichael James are arguably the two most difficult players in the country to bring down. But it is vital to stop these players before they can spring loose for big plays. Sure tackling and taking the ball out of the superstar’s hands is important for each defense. Extra opportunities for game-changing plays could result in disaster for the defenses.
It’s kind of funny how after all the hype and discussion about different strategies and schemes the defensive coordinators will try to come up with to stop the offensive attacks of Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Auburn’s Gus Malzhan, it comes down to such simple ideas. Protect the ball, tackle well and don’t allow big plays. The defenses have had over a month to prepare, so don’t be surprised if they come out and are able to stop the offenses for a bit. A difference may come in the second half after adjustments are made. Oregon has arguably been the best 4th quarter team in the country, outscoring opponents 115-24 in the game’s final quarter.
It may just come down to who has the ball last and who can make a play that will be remembered for as long as they live. I think I speak for all of college football fans when I wish for that.
As for who wins the game, well that’s too hard to say. Very evenly-matched teams and the two undisputed best teams in the country. Everyone got the matchup they wanted and deserved. My edge goes to Chip Kelly’s squad just because I think they will come out with a game plan to contain Cam Newton and be fired up after hearing for the last 5 weeks how they have no chance to stop Auburn and how the Oregon Ducks can’t play with the SEC. Also, while both offensive can basically cancel each other out the Oregon defense and special teams might have the advantage.
Coach Kelly’s motto for his team is “Win The Day.” Simple enough, but the way his team has embraced that fundamental yet powerful statement will carry them through this game. Focus, determination and passion are required for any great team. The words come from the movie “Gladiator” and in that movie it was also said that “what we do in life echoes in eternity.” Oregon will use that idea of eternal glory as a catalyst for the performance of their lives to take down Auburn. They have to play a near-perfect game in Glendale and Auburn is favored for a good reason. But when the teams take the field, luck favors the prepared and the passionate.
Move over SEC, Oregon wins the day brings home the title to Eugene.
Final score: 42-34
About the Author
Written by Rob Parness
My name is Robbie Parness and I am a student at the University of Oregon. I'm a California native that loves to play, watch and talk about all kinds of sports. I would love to become a sports writer someday or work in sports in any capacity.