Yes, I think it will. Here's why...
Everybody knows about Oregon’s “blur” offense: manic pace, quick strike, lethal execution, multiple weapons, options galore, and speed, speed, speed. Not only does it cause confusion for the defense every down, but it prevents the other team from substituting players. This breeds defensive mistakes that Oregon can capitalize on, and – over the course of a game – it wears defensive players down so that in the fourth quarter they are exhausted…and cannot keep up with Oregon.
I think this will be the case again in the big game. It has in all 12 other games Oregon has played, so I don’t see it being any different on Jan. 10. There are some in SEC land who I see saying things like, "well, that may work out there in the Pac-10, but our defenses are chalked full of such great players that it won't be a problem." OK, go ahead and keep thinking that. Please. I don't dispute that Auburn (and maybe even the SEC generally) has really great defensive talent. I don't. But, that talent doesn't have to deal with what Oregon dishes out. We'll see where the defensive talent for Auburn is in the third and fourth quarter after their butts have been run ragged all game long and their sucking wind...and Oregon's offense is not.
All that being said, I think there's another element where Oregon may have an advantage when it comes to wearing out their opponent. Defense. That's right. I think Oregon's defense will be in better shape, fresher and able to deal with "the Cam Newton show" a lot deeper into the game than will be the case for Auburn's defense vs. Oregon's offense.
Two reasons why:
- Oregon’s defense practices all the time against a fast paced spread attack. They know it well. So, notwithstanding the talents of Mr. Newton, Auburn is not going to operate an offense or a pace that Oregon has not seen before. Yeah, they'll have to find a way to bring Newton to the ground...he's a load...but, I don't see Auburn bamboozling the Oregon defense or wearing out because of a fast pace.
- More importantly, Oregon has great depth on defense, so they can substitute players in and out all game long to keep them fresher over the course of the contest. This pays off handsomely in the second half when, typically, Oregon’s D starts to dictate to the opponent’s offense and come up with turnovers.
So there you go. Yes, I think Oregon's pace on offense and freshness on defense will be a factor as it will wear out Auburn to a degree that in the second half Oregon can assert itself and - potentially - win.