Setting school records for points and yards this season, Auburn enters Monday night's game averaging 42.7 points and 497.7 yards of total offense per contest behind the play of quarterback Cameron Newton and a veteran offensive line. One of the leaders of that line, senior center Ryan Pugh, said that it won't be just Auburn's offense that will be concerned about holding onto the football in four days.
"I think time of possession is going to be a key," Pugh said. "I'm sure they are talking to their offense about not going three and out either and giving their defense bad field position or putting them in a stressful situation early in the game. I think offensively we have to be able to sustain drives and do things to keep our defense off the field. At the same time I think coach Chiz will take seven points in one play every time."
It's not Oregon's offense that concerns Pugh though, it's an Oregon defense that has been opportunistic this season in helping the Ducks to a perfect 12-0 record. Allowing 18.4 points per game and just 331.6 yards of offense, Oregon's group has forced 35 turnovers this year. That's something Pugh and his teammates are definitely aware of.
"They get 11 guys to the football every play," Pugh said. "They give up big plays here and there but they're a bend but don't break team. They are very opportunistic. They make big plays when they need to. They bat a lot of balls in the air and get a lot of takeaways. They create a lot on their own for their offense."
Used to playing very big and physical defenses, Auburn will see something completely different this time around from Oregon as the Ducks will be one of the smallest groups the Tigers will have seen all season. Using speed and an unconventional system that moves players around to different spots on the line, Pugh said having the extra time to prepare for this defense should prove to be beneficial for the Tigers.
"I don't think it really matters who you play," Pugh said. "You have to be sound in your technique either way. It's definitely a different style than we're used to playing against but it's something we've had 30 days to prepare for and 15 practices. We're going to put our best foot forward for the game.
"It has helped a lot because it's technique you don't use every week in the SEC," Pugh added. "We see a lot of four-man front, but the SEC is going to a lot of odd fronts like Oregon will play about 90 percent of the time. It's helped having this extra time to work on different schemes we haven't done in a couple of weeks. The good thing is that the last three games we've played have been against teams with odd fronts. It was good being able to prepare this way and look at films from previous games."
For Pugh and a large group of Auburn seniors the game on Monday at 7:30 p.m. CST will be the last time they put on the orange and blue.
"Just leave it all out there," Pugh said of his goal for the game. "I think there's no other way to take it but that way. Talk about playing for everybody else on the team. It's not about yourself. Even though we are seniors and we want to win the game more than anybody, you play for everybody else. You play for the fans, you play for the school, you play for your own family.
"You play for everybody but yourself. You leave it all out there at the end of the day because at the end of three-and-a-half hours or when the fourth quarter's over, double overtime's over, whatever, you want to look up and say you had no regrets, you left it all out there and you did everything in your power to win the game."