TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT!
Tonight is the night that Oregon plays Auburn for the NCAA football championship. Needless to say, I am pretty pumped up about it!
I don’t know what to expect.
Auburn’s Heisman Trophy award winning quarterback Cam Newton is a bigger, faster and more talented version of Ohio State’s quarterback Terell Pryor, who beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl last year. Newton runs well, and they have running back Michael Dyer, who averages nearly six yards per carry. Newton throws well too; he has an extremely high quarterback rating at 188.2, he completes 67% of his passes, and has thrown for 28 touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions. At 6’6” and 247 pounds, to say Newton is imposing is an understatement. He does it all! The Tigers’ defense is led by defensive lineman Nick Fairley, who has a reputation as a “quarterback eater”.
Oregon’s LaMichael James finished the season sixth in the nation in rushing with 1,578 yards and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Auburn’s Newton was not all that far behind with 1,238 yards. Oregon QB Darron Thomas completed 60.7% of his passes, threw for 28 touchdowns, was intercepted just seven times, and ran for 421 yards.
Oregon has allowed 18.4 points per game this season, and led the nation in scoring at 49.3 points per game. Auburn allowed 24.5 and scored 42.7. The Ducks allowed their opponents 331 yards per game, while Auburn allowed 362. The Duck defense picked off 20 passes this year, while Auburn had 10. Statistically, the Ducks would seem to be a slight favorite.
A number of things will have to line up in order for Oregon to win tonight, though:
1) The Ducks’ defense will have to give a complete effort to contain Newton and Dyer.
2) Oregon’s offensive line will have to step it up in order to protect Thomas and to get the running game going.
3) Oregon’s offense needs to hang on to the football, not fumble it away.
4) The Ducks’ defense needs to force turnovers.
5) The Ducks need to cut down on penalties.
6) Oregon’s coaching staff will need to successfully make adjustments on the fly, as they have done all year, on both offense and defense.
I trust that item 6 will happen. I do not trust that 3 and 5 will happen. On items 1, 2, 4 and 5… I’m hoping!!
What I predict will happen:
Auburn takes an early lead 14-0, Oregon gets a field goal to cut it to 14-3, Auburn scores again to take a 21-3 lead after one quarter. Duck haters will be clapping their hands and cheering with delight.
The Ducks come back with a score and go for the two-point conversion and get it, to cut the lead to 21-11. Auburn gets a field goal to go up 24-11, but Oregon comes back with a touchdown and extra point to make it 24-18. Another field goal for Auburn, then another touchdown for Oregon makes it 27-25 Auburn at halftime.
They trade touchdowns again in the third quarter, and the score is 34-32 Auburn when the Ducks take the lead 35-34 on a field goal. The Ducks score again to go up 42-34 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Auburn’s defense is tired. Their offense musters a field goal to make the score 42-37 Ducks, but then Oregon gets a touchdown (with another two point conversion) and a field goal to go ahead 53-37. Auburn gets a meaningless touchdown in the final minutes to make the final score 53-44 Oregon.
In typical Oregon fashion, the Ducks get behind early and then win the game in the second half, in this case outscoring the opponent 50-23 after falling behind 21-3.
That 53-44 score is what I actually saw on a scoreboard in a DREAM a couple of nights ago, so I had to figure out a way for the teams to arrive at that score… thus the elaborate prediction!
But anything can happen. Auburn could beat the Ducks horribly by something like 56-19, or Oregon could romp by a score like 56-21. But I doubt either team will really be able to stop the other’s offense.
Look for a high-scoring game! And look for the Oregon Duck mascot to be doing a lot of push-ups!
And win or lose, I am proud of the Ducks for even getting this far. Go Oregon!!!