ESPN’s fabulous college football spectacular is an hour (or more) away from taking place, and it’s never too late to make a quick prediction.
Briefly, this game features two Heisman finalists, Oregon’s dynamic running back LaMichael James and the best college football player in the nation (this year) Auburn’s Heisman winner Cam Newton. Auburn, who has a pourus pass defense has a line anchored by Lombardi winner Nick Fairley. This should be an exciting game of tough offenses, but Cam Newton will have to throw into a tough Oregon secondary led by All-American sophomore cornerback Cliff Harris, who is also a threat to take you deep as a punt-returner. If Auburn wishes to bring the mighty Southeastern Conference their fifth National Championship in a row, and their school’s first since 1957, they will have to allow Cam Newton to use his superior athletic ability to make the dynamic plays he is able to. Take the reins completely off, Newton is an excellent football player who definitely makes a huge impact on the field.
Just take a look at Auburn’s record. If they win tonight, they will join Nebraska as the only teams with three perfect seasons in the past 20 years.
If Oregon wants to bring their school their FIRST national championship in their history, they will have to play the defense that beat an undefeated Stanford down at the end of the season. That defense propelled them to their first ever chance to participate in a National Championship game. As it would for any team in any effort, it will have to take sound efforts against this Auburn team to beat them. AU has, throughout the season, given up huge plays to opposing offenses. They will have to stop Nick Fairley from getting in their back field to their QB Darron Thomas. Their defense, coached by Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti, was best in the Pac 10 in opponents converting 3rd downs, at 33.5%. These are all things that means eliminating Cam Newton’s big threat ability from the game, and stopping him from making big gains on his feet, which is why Auburn is so effective at driving down the field to score. Not to mention, Oregon’s special teams, particularly in return situations are tops in FBS.
Both teams have the ability to beat one another. Based on the evenness of Oregon on both sides of the ball, I will go with the Ducks. Auburn’s secondary is too shaky for me, and despite having the best player on their side, I think that a 50+ delay between games will slow a Heisman winner down (Think Troy Smith).
Oregon 28, Auburn 27. Close, but so far, War Eagle.