Friday, January 7, 2011

Coutdown to "The Natty" - How Does Auburn Win?

Auburn fans and the media will tell you the way Auburn will win this game is to simply show up. That's right. Why even play this game? It's a forgone conclusion that Auburn will win and win big according to them.

Excellent. Keep thinking that everyone. Oregon will have some surprises and I love how they are now the clear underdog.

Back in reality, I think to win this game Auburn will have to do three things equally...1) deal with the Oregon offense all game long better than any team has this year, 2) try and bottle up Oregon's kick returners more than any other team this season and 3) find a way to break down the fast, fresh Oregon D better and more consistently than anyone all year long and without turning it over.

Taking these each in order...
  • If the Auburn D can disrupt the timing of the Oregon run game, get pressure on QB Darron Thomas and maybe force a turnover or two I think Auburn will be well on their way to a victory. But, there is an additional burden for Auburn on this one. They need to be able to do it for 60 minutes of football. Many teams on Oregon's schedule this year stopped Oregon - especially early in games. But, they could not do it consistently and certainly could not do it in the second half when they are fatigued. I think this is the area where Auburn will be most challenged. But hey, if they can do it all game long, they'll probably win.
  • Auburn better be good at covering kicks, as well as kicking itself. Oregon has a lot of weapons who can run it back every time they touch the ball. And, its not for sure the Ducks will kick a field goal, kickoff or punt (from anywhere on the field) and instead run a fake. If Auburn can limit Oregon to zero special teams TDs and not give up a big return, they're also on their way to winning.
  • And finally, Auburn needs Cam Newton to get the AU offense rolling to score a lot of points and - ideally - keep the ball for a while. A big game from Newton probably means a win for the Tigers. But watch out, Oregon's defense causes a lot of turnovers and they rotate in players two deep so they're fresh while the opposition is tired.
The way I see it, if Auburn can accomplish these three things, they will win - perhaps by a couple scores. That's their path to victory. If they only cover off on, say, one of them, I think they very much expose themselves for a loss - possibly a spanking.

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