Series Record: First meeting
2010 National Rankings:
Rush Offense: 6th/Rush Offense: 4th
Pass-Eff. Offense: 1st/Pass-Eff. Offense: 18th
Total Offense: 7th/Total Offense: 2nd
Scoring Offense: 6th/Scoring Offense: 1st
Rush Defense: 11th/Rush Defense: 16th
Pass-Eff. Defense: 75th/Pass-Eff. Defense: 6th
Total Defense: 54th/Total Defense: 25th
Score Defense: 54th/Score Defense: 14th
Scoring Averages and Margins...
•Both teams faced 10 BCS opponents during 2010 with Oregon's average score being 45-22 and Auburn's average score 39-27. In terms of scoring margins, Auburn is plus 42 percent on offense and minus 16 percent on defense. Oregon is plus 41 percent on offense and minus 19 percent on defense. Oregon wins 38-31.
•If you look at each team's performances against BCS opponents with a winning record, Oregon's average score was 51-31 and Auburn's average score was 38-24. Scoring margins show Auburn is plus 46 percent on offense and minus 24 percent on defense. Oregon is plus 55 percent on offense and minus nine percent on defense. Auburn wins 40-38.
•Examining each team's last five games against a BCS opponent, Oregon's average score was 41-22 and Auburn's average score was 42-25. Scoring margins show Auburn is plus 46 percent on offense and minus 24 percent on defense. Oregon is plus 37 percent on offense and minus 17 percent on defense. Auburn wins 34-28.
It's important to remember that strength of schedule plays a factor in the average scores and scoring margins, but despite Auburn playing a more difficult schedule the numbers still indicate an Auburn victory in Glendale, Ariz. The numbers also indicate Auburn closed the regular season as the stronger team.
Yardage Averages and margins...
•In their 10 BCS games Auburn is averaging 473 yards per game on offense while allowing 374 yards on defense. Oregon averaged 506 yards on offense while allowing 373 yards on defense. In terms of yardage margins Auburn is plus 27.6 percent on offense and minus 6.5 percent on defense. Oregon is plus 24.3 percent on offense and minus 1.9 percent on defense.
•Looking at each team's last five BCS games, Auburn averaged 495 yards per game on offense while allowing 360 yards on defense. Oregon averaged 493 yards on offense while allowing 332 yards on defense. In terms of yardage margins, Auburn is pus 31.7 percent on offense and minus 7.8 percent on defense. The Ducks are plus 24.1 percent on offense and minus 12.7 percent on defense.
>LaMichael James leads the nation in rushing for Oregon.
•During their 12 games this season the Oregon Ducks scored on 50.0 percent of their offensive possessions while the defense allowed its opponent to score 21.8 percent of the time. During Auburn's 13 games this season the Tigers scored on 55.6 percent of their possessions while their defense allowed a scoring percentage of 34.0 percent.
•Looking at both team's 10 games against a BCS opponent, Oregon scored on 46.2 percent of its possessions while allowing the opponent to score on 27.1 percent. Auburn scored on 52.2 percent of its possessions, while the defense allowed the opponent to score 36.8 percent of the time.
•Oregon played three BCS opponents currently with a winning record. The Ducks scored on 56.1 percent of their possessions in those games while their defense allowed a score 32.5 percent of the time. Auburn faced six opponents (BCS) with a winning record and scored 47.1 percent of the time while allowing a score, 32.4 percent of the time.
Statistical Comparison and how they match up...
This is based on both team's national rankings on offense, defense and special teams. For example, this would be Auburn's run-offense vs. Oregon's run-defense.
•Running game: even
•Passing game: Oregon (slight)
•Total offense vs. defense: Oregon
•Scoring offense vs. defense: Oregon
•Third down percentage: Oregon (slight)
•Net punting: Oregon
•Punt return: Oregon
•Kick return: Auburn
•Turnover margin: Oregon
•Tackles for loss: Auburn (slight)
•Red zone production: Oregon
•Big Plays (30 yards or more): Auburn (slight)
•Impact Plays (15 yards or more): Auburn (slight) •Fewest Penalties: Auburn
•Strength of Schedule: Auburn
Oregon has the edge in eight of the above 15 categories with the running game category a toss-up. Though those numbers indicate Oregon should win, it's important to keep in mind the competition both teams faced this season. Auburn had six games against an opponent ranked in the current BCS Top 25 and Oregon had only one.
Of Auburn's 13 games, nine were against an opponent headed to a bowl game while Oregon played five if you include Southern Cal, a team which was not eligible because of NCAA sanctions. Auburn faced six BCS opponents that finished the regular season with a winning record and Oregon faced three. The difference in strength of schedule is indeed a factor in the above statistical categories.
Players to watch...
*Running back LaMichael James 1,682 yards on 281 carries and 21 touchdowns, 13 catches for 169 yards and one touchdown.
*Quarterback Darron Thomas 195-321 passes for 2,518 yards and 28 touchdowns with seven interceptions, 492 rushing yards on 85 carries with five touchdowns.
*Wide receiver Jeffrey Maehl 68 catches for 943 yards and 12 touchdowns.
*Wide receiver Drew Davis 36 catches for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
*Wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei 33 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
*Running back Kenjon Barner 519 yards on 80 carries and six touchdowns.
*Quarterback Cameron Newton 165-246 passes for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns with six interceptions, 1,409 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 242 carries.
*Running back Michael Dyer 950 yards and five touchdowns on 160 carries.
*Running back Onterio McCalebb 763 yards and nine touchdowns on 89 carries.
*Wide receiver Darvin Adams 48 catches for 909 and seven touchdowns.
Darvin Adams has been a clutch performer for the Tigers.
*Wide receiver Terrell Zachery 38 catches for 585 yards and four touchdowns.
*Wide receiver Emory Blake 28 catches for 472 yards and seven touchdowns.
*Linebacker Casey Mathews 73 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions.
*Linebacker Spencer Paysinger 68 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks.
*Lineman Brandon Bair 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, three sacks.
*Lineman Kenny Rowe 38 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, six sacks.
*Defensive Back John Boyett 67 tackles, 5 interceptions, 1.5 tackles for loss.
*Cornerback Cliff Harris 30 tackles, five interceptions, four punt returns for touchdowns
*Tackle Nick Fairley 55 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks.
Nick Fairley was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Lombardi Award presented to the nation's top lineman.
*Linebacker Josh Bynes 71 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, one sack.
*Safety Zac Etheridge 66 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions.
*Defensive end Antoine Carter 31 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks.
*Tackle Zach Clayton 25 tackles, seven tackles for loss.
*Cornerback T'Sharvan Bell 33 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception.
A few trends to watch...
•Auburn held its 10 BCS opponents to 25 percent below their rushing average while the Oregon defense held its 10 BCS opponents to 12 percent below their rushing average.
•Oregon quarterback Thomas had a pass rating of 117.5 on third down against his team's 10 BCS opponents. Newton had a rating of 178.6. Against BCS opponents with a winning record, Thomas had a rating of 87.4 on third down and Newton had a pass rating of 200.5.
•Both teams have faced 10 BCS opponents this season, but Auburn played better overall competition. Auburn's opponents combined for a record of 77-45 and Oregon's opponents compiled a record of 60-61.
•Auburn's 10 BCS opponents averaged 400 yards per game and 31.4 points per game on offense and their defenses allowed 342.5 yards per game and 22.6 points per game. Oregon's 10 BCS opponents averaged 380.6 yards per game and 27.2 points per game on offense while allowing 383.1 yards per game and 26.5 points per game.
•Both teams faced a tougher strength of schedule during the second half of the season. Auburn's offense actually improved during the second half of the season, scoring 23 percent more and gaining five percent more in yardage. The Oregon Ducks saw a drop in scoring (18 percent) and a drop in yardage (10 percent).
•During the first six games of the season Newton passed for 12 touchdowns with five interceptions, which included 672 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. During the second half of the season he threw for 16 touchdowns and one interception, which include 737 yards rushing and 11 additional touchdowns.
•This game could be decided early should one team come out extremely flat. Here is a comparison of each team's first four possessions from their 10 BCS games. Oregon's offense averaged 40.1 yards per possession at 6.10 yards per play. Oregon scored 47.5 percent of the time, including a touchdown percentage of 35.0 percent. The Ducks will face an Auburn defense which allowed 38.5 yards per possession at 6.21 yards per play. Auburn's defense allowed a scoring percentage of 47.5 percent and a touchdown percentage of 42.5 percent.
•During Auburn's first four possessions the Tiger offense averaged 38.9 yards per possessions at 6.98 yards per play. They scored 50.0 percent of the time, including a touchdown percentage of 40.0 percent. They will face an Oregon defense, which allowed 35.7 yards per possession at 6.30 yards per play. This includes a scoring percentage of 45.0 percent and a touchdown percentage of 35.0 percent.
Prior to the season opener I predicted Auburn would win nine to 10 regular season games and would be in strong contention to compete for the SEC West. Four months later, Auburn is 13-0 and about to play perhaps the biggest game in school history.
I realize some will always see the 1989 Alabama game as the biggest ever for the Tigers, but there is one major difference. Coach Pat Dye once pointed out the victory came the moment it was announced the Iron Bowl would be played at Jordan-Hare in 1989. The outcome, Auburn's 30-20 victory, was icing on the cake.
Most of the focus leading up to this game has been on the offenses, but in the end it will be the better defense which likely decides the outcome. It doesn't have to be the most dominating performance, but the defense that makes the most critical stops during the game can lead its team to victory.
During the previous 12 BCS National Championship games the winner has won by 10 or more points eight times. The average score in this championship game has been 34-19. Half of the championship games have been decided by at least 14 points, which is why there is concern with the long layoff before the game. Both coaching staffs will be concerned about having played the game before the night of the championship or not being prepared enough. It's the fine line both coaching staffs and teams must walk where so many teams have failed.
This game has the potential to be a showcase of offensive firepower, but something tells me the defenses and special teams will make their presence known in a big way. Unless one team completely collapses, both Auburn and Oregon have played well in the second half, which means this game could come down to which team has the last possession.
With Auburn showing the ability to make big comebacks this season there is a comforting feeling of "destiny," which perhaps could simply be a well-coached and determined team. The goal this season for the Tigers has been to progress from "good to great" and finishing what they started. The final scene has finally arrived and the time has come to write the last chapter of this championship season. Auburn 38, Oregon 33