National Championship Preview: Oregon vs. Auburn
Auburn (13-0) vs. Oregon (12-0)
- Pac-10 Video Preview with JJ Stokes (Keys To The Game)
- Scouting Reports (Brandon Bair, Cliff Harris, David Paulson, Talmadge Jackson)
- Former Ducks, 49ers Talk National Championship
- Ngata, Dickson Make Ravens Coach Harbaugh To Wear Oregon Gear
The nation's number one offense is led by dynamic dual threat QB Darron Thomas and All-American RB LaMichael James. The favorite receiving target is the sure-handed senior Jeff Maehl. TE David Paulson is a dependable underneath receiver and a clutch third down type. Backup RB Kenjon Barner is a solid runner with a hefty 6.5 average per carry and should play a key role in this game coming off the bench. The offensive line is rock solid and anchored by the athletic senior left tackle Bo Thran.
This is an outstanding unit and the most underrated part of the Oregon program. They give up only 18 points per game and are fast, athletic and fundamentally sound. The defensive line is led by senior DTs Brandon Bair and the disruptive Zac Clark. Athletic edge rushers Kenny Rowe and Terrell Turner can both put heat on the QB. Linebacker Casey Matthews is a high competitor like his All-Pro brother Clay of the NFL's Packers. Corners Talmadge Jackson and Cliff Harris are both solid cover guys and the Ducks have a future star in FS John Boyett.
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton has been a nightmare for opposing defenses this season. This player could be the number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He possesses a cannon for an arm and is very accurate. His run skill is rare for a QB. RB Michael Dyer is a very good back with breakaway speed. Receiver Darvin Adams is a downfield threat, averaging 18.7 per catch with 7 TDs. Another WR Emory Blake averages 17.2 per reception and has a burst to run by defenders. The offensive line is anchored by seniors Lee Ziemba and Ryan Pugh.
The always active and fast Tiger defense is led by All-World and future top ten NFL Draft pick DT Nick Fairley, who leads the team with 21 TFLs. Undersized DE Antoine Carter is an explosive pass rusher with 10 TFLs and 17 QB hurries. Linebacker Daren Bates weighs only 205 but can mix it up with big bodies around the line of scrimmage. Defensive back Demond Washington is fast and athletic and also a game breaker in the return game.
Not long ago Chip Kelly was a no-name offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. Former coach Mike Bellotti gave him the break of his career and he is now considered one of the top offensive minds in the game and a "master" of the zone option attack. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is a highly respected tactician with a ton of energy. He will probably have the opportunity to become a head coach sometime soon.
Always considered a defensive specialist, eyebrows were raised when Auburn selected Gene Chizik to replace Tommy Tuberville. Those skeptics are few and far between now, with Chizik leading the proud Auburn program back to national prominence. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn runs a high-octane offense and has already turned down several head coaching overtures.
Featuring the two most dynamic offenses in college football, this game could easily go down as one of the most exciting championship match-ups in recent memory. Both teams feature QB's who are very difficult to contain and can beat you with their arm as well as feet. Each run the highly charged spread-option attack which opens up the running game for electric runners LaMichael James and Mike Dyer. Both defenses have to play a swarming style and keep the big plays to a minimum. Oregon really has to spy Cam Newton in an attempt to thwart his long runs, with outside containment and playing disciplined defense being big keys as well. The undersized but fast Auburn defense will have its hands full stopping Darron Thomas. The key will be Oregon's experienced offensive line and how they handle Auburn's impressive front four, led by the disruptive All-American DT Nick Fairley. Auburn's athletic secondary gives up few big plays over the top so expect Oregon's clutch senior receiver Jeff Maehl to work the underneath zones all night. I feel a big key to the Ducks' offense will be back up RB Kenjon Barner, who has averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry while subbing for the explosive LaMichael James. He has size and runs with authority between the tackles, giving the Ducks an impressive one-two punch in their run game. This will be a high-scoring game featuring several lead changes. Turnovers will be key, especially late in the game. As much as I like Cam Newton and the Auburn offense, this is the most athletic and talented defense in Oregon history in my opinion and feel they have the skill to slow down the Auburn offense and win the BCS National Championship.