Both coaching staffs have done great job and it is impressive how the players on both teams are playing together as smoothly working units. If they weren't, neither would be unbeaten and playing for the national championship. Looking at all of the intangibles surrounding this game, I don't see where either team has an advantage.
One of the big factors is the long layoff between games, which is 37 days for both the Tigers and Ducks. That much time gives the defenses a tremendous amount of opportunities to prepare for what these high-powered offenses do so each team could have a little more difficulty moving the ball and scoring like they did throughout the season.
I don't think there is any doubt that Auburn has played a more difficult schedule than Oregon while playing in a tougher conference. Auburn also has the advantage of having played in a conference championship game, but Oregon has done what it needed to do.
The Ducks had a big comeback victory over a strong Stanford team to that helped them earn a trip to the national championship game. It was a very impressive win and I would compare that victory to Auburn's comeback win over Alabama with the big difference that Oregon made its comeback on its homefield in Eugene while Auburn beat Alabama on the road in Tuscaloosa, which is a monumental difference.
I have had a chance to watch Oregon play a good bit and the Ducks have an impressive team. I have heard a lot of discussion about how Auburn's size advantage gives the Tigers a big edge. That may be an advantage, but Oregon substitutes a lot to keep fresh players on the field. TCU was not an overly big football team, but played very well against a really large and physical Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl so I am not sure the size difference is as big a factor as a lot of people believe it will be.
I think the biggest difference is that Auburn's superstar (Cameron Newton) has the ball in his hands on every play and Oregon's (tailback LaMichael James) doesn't. Oregon's quarterback is a good player and does a nice job of spreading the ball around, but sometimes plays break down and don't work as planned. In every game this year in those situations, Cam Newton has made big plays to win football games.
Cameron Newton is the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
I hope with the layoff he hasn't lost his touch throwing the football because at the end of the year the Heisman Trophy winner was throwing the ball as well as you can throw it. I haven't seen a quarterback any more accurate. He had a great performance in the SEC Championship Game even though he had three or four balls dropped that could have made another two or three touchdowns difference that night.
There is a difference in the personality of the coaches. One of them is quiet and reserved and the other one likes to talk. I have got my preferences. Of course, talking isn't going to win this football game. Blocking, tackling, effort, skill, not making mistakes and good play on speciality teams is going to win this game.
For Auburn it looks like everybody is healthy and should be rested and I think it is the same thing with the Oregon team. These are two very exciting football teams and it has the potential to be a great game. Playing on a neutral field with both teams equally motivated, I think this is a game in which the best team is going to win.
A lot of people have been of the opinion since around midway through the season that Oregon is the best team in college football. Personally, I like Auburn's chances in this game after watching this team closely throughout the season. One thing I know for sure it is a great thing for both programs to have a chance to play on the biggest stage in college football. I plan to be there and I can't wait to see what happens on Monday night.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.