Monday, December 20, 2010

Auburn vs Oregon: Who's the man???

"To be the man you have to beat the man"

"The SEC is the Man"

"The SEC is the toughest football conference in America...Period!" I hear this a lot in college football media these days and with good reason. The SEC has won the past 4 BCS National titles and 6 of 12 since the inception of the BCS in 1998. They are 6-0 as a conference and have 4 different teams that have won the prestigious championship, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, and Florida with LSU and Florida each winning twice. So its hard to argue that they are not the most dominant football conference in America because its been proven on the field the last 4 years with them beating the Big 10 in 2006 & 2007 and the Big 12 in 2008 & 2009. They also posted a victory over the ACC in 1998 and another over the Big 12 in 2003.

"USC was the man"

Paging Cam Newton...OK for arguments sake I'm going to forget Reggie Bush's sanctions and stick to the on the field performance. Even with the USC Trojans dominance from 2002-2008 they never faced an SEC team in the championship game. The Trojans did win 2 National Championships in that time period but only one was a BCS Championship. So why the nation largely believes that the SEC is the toughest and most dominant conference in college football I think the people out west disagree rather strongly and with good reason. The Pac 10 is the only conference to post a winning record over the SEC in the past 10 years. The Pac 10 has the most dominant team of the 2000's in USC but only 1 BCS Title in two BCS title game appearances...it just doesn't smell right. This is why this 2011 BCS Championship Game is so important for Oregon and the Pac 10.

"Oregon beat the man twice in a row but is still not the man..."

Oregon is now the team holding the flag for the west coast. Though they beat the pants off USC two years in a row losing to Ohio State and Boise State last year tainted its perception nationally. This is a team that is known for its fancy uniforms, its fast paced offense, and well known sugar daddy Phil Knight. The perception is that Oregon is an offensive show with a "just good enough" defense. The perception is that Oregon is fast and not as physical as the mighty SEC, that they play a "gimmick offense" and are not challenged each and every week like the teams from "the south". People point to the fact that Boise State and Ohio State shut Oregon down last year and how the Ducks struggle to put up points against good athletic defenses like the one Auburn has this year. People are saying that the Ducks have to just hope they can score enough points to keep Cam Newton off the field because if Cam couldn't be stopped by the powerful SEC defenses then there is no way that a Pac 10 defense is going to stop him. That in a nutshell is the perception "out there" right now. So my guess is the perception won't change much if Oregon loses this football game.

"Sticks and stones..."

The thing about Oregon is it doesn't care at all about its perception. Its coach doesn't care, its players don't care, and quite honestly I'm not so sure its fan base cares that much either...OK some fans don't care but some do. What I know is that as good as Auburns offense is, and as good as the SEC defenses are, Oregon will be BY FAR the best team Auburn has played this year. Oregon's defense is better than any defense in Yards Per Play Allowed (4.53) that Auburn has faced this season. I've already explained that Oregon's Offense is not as explosive as Auburns however Oregon's offense will be BY FAR the best offense that Auburn has faced. Oregon has scored 21 more touchdowns than Arkansas which is the best offense that Auburn has played this year. Oregon also has the luxury of understanding how to prepare for a BCS game and has played against Terell Pryor who is the most similar player in FBS to Cam Newton. Though it was a year ago and the Ducks lost the Rose Bowl to Pryor they locked up some valuable experience in their memory banks that I'm sure they will be withdrawing and using for this game. Oregon also played a pretty good QB by the name of Andrew Luck and forced him into many mistakes that he didn't make against any other teams  this season.

"The Dons"

Kelly vs Chizik. I'm sure for Gene Chizik its truly a blessing to be able to coach a player as gifted as Cam Newton. He can make you look good all the time no matter what. He can make a bad play caller look good (I am not saying that is the case at Auburn and I think that Gus Malzahn is a fanstastic coach) but it can work against you as well. I think at times Auburn has relied so heavily on Newton's production that he has covered up some very flawed game plans. You need to look no further than games against Alabama, LSUASU's Dennis Erickson. ASU had the best chance to beat Oregon this year. I know people will say it was Cal but the fact is Oregon held the ball for the last 9 minutes of that game and wore Cal down. If they needed a TD they would have gotten it. Cal used Erickson's game plan and also feigned injury for those of you that were paying attention, which is a foundation also laid out by Erickson and ASU. Oregon also has an experienced big game coach in Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti. It seems as though when Oregon needs a big game from its defense, it gets it. In 2001 when Oregon faced Colorado the Buffalo's were the hottest team in the country. The National Media had a love fest with them similar to what's now happening with Cam Newton. The Buffalo's had the best running attack in the country, an All-American tight end, and a strong and physical defense that had just punched mighty Nebraska in the mouth. Well it was 38-16 when it was all said and done and it probably shouldn't have been that close. I'm not saying that Auburn is Colorado of 2001, I am saying this has happened before and the feeling going into the game was eerily similar.

"To sum it up"

There is an old saying that goes like this; "if you want to be the man you have to beat the man". For america "the man to beat" is the SEC, for the Pac 10  Oregon has already "beat the man (USC)" two years in a row...I guess the saying is only true if we can all agree on "who the man" really is, either way we will find out on January 10 in Glendale!

Thanks for reading!


The Fan

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