My Pick: Auburn Tigers 38, Oregon Ducks 17
by Luke Detmer
Cam Newton Walks in Endzone
Coming into this season, many preseason prognosticators were trotting out a line of thought that schools would revert from their high-powered spread offenses to more of a smash-mouth approach. However, when it is all said and done, look who is playing for all the marbles: two of the most high octane, run and gun outfits to ever grace the gridiron.
It'll be two leading Heisman candidates -- Cam Newton vs LaMichael James.
I am a bit concerned about Auburn's defense which seemed to give up points in bunches. Perhaps this improved as the year wore on. Auburn's experience in pulling games out of the fire will certainly help them. The Tigers' run through a tough SEC slate is in their favor. Cam Newton is, perhaps, a once in a century type of talent.
Oregon, on the other hand, played in the big daddy Rose Bowl last year. Despite losing, I think this BCS experience will help the Ducks deal with focus and distraction. The sheer velocity of their attack has given most teams fits. But how in the world did California keep their scoring down and almost win? California was not that good. And I don't see Auburn faking any injuries in the National Championship game. Perhaps, I should say allegedly.
The smart money projects a very high scoring game. But I think this game could turn on one of the team's spread offenses failing and being shut down in the game. This is a wild card that could come out of nowhere. And I think it could be Oregon who suffers this fate. Again, how did Cal hold them to 15 points.
I don't see the reverse happening with Auburn getting shut down. OC Gus Malzhan is a spread and wildcat guru. As such, he understands the key thing, in my view, that makes the spread go. You have to have your quarterback run, run hard and run often. And you have to ram him straight up the middle of the line. Do that, and the spread is virtually unstoppable. Do it with a tremendous size and speed athlete like Newton and, well, you saw the results. I wish I had a buck for every time I saw Newton score a red zone touchdown straight up the gut this year.
My pick: Auburn Tigers 38, Oregon Ducks 17.