Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Ducks’

Auburn/Oregon Showdown!

The number one ranked Auburn Tigers meet second ranked Oregon in the BCS National Championship game tonight.  It is a game that’s been much anticipated and discussed among the sports community for weeks.  Given our recent 1-4 record in this weekend’s NFL Wild Card games, we are a little nervous about predicting the winner of this game, but we will give it a try anyway!

Oregon’s offense is explosive and ranks first in the nation.  Oregon is a quick strike team, having scored 24 of its TDs this year in plays lasting less than 56 seconds.   The Ducks average 49.3 points per game and 537.5 yards per game.  This prolific offense has been relentless this season.  Auburn’s 53rd ranked defense is going to have its hands full tonight.

Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James is Oregon’s greatest offensive weapon, as well as the nation’s leading rusher.  James averages 152.9 yards per game.  At 5’9” and 185 pounds, James has blazing sprinter-like speed.  His elusiveness makes defenders miss and when he gets to the edge, he is nearly unstoppable.  He is also a power runner and can run between the tackles.  If an offensive coordinator could build his own player from scratch, doesn’t it sound like James would be the prototypical, dream running back?  James will present an enormous challenge for Auburn’s defense, which ranks 10th nationally against the run.

If someone is able to stop James, it may just be Tiger tackle Nick Fairley.  As the nation’s top interior lineman and Lombardi Award winner this season, he had 55 tackles, 21 of them for a loss.  He can also pressure his opposing quarterback and accounted for 10.5 sacks and 21 hurry ups this year.    

Ducks QB Darron Thomas is also a force to be reckoned with.  He has 28 TDs and has thrown for 2518 yards this season.  Thomas, a sophomore, is only a first year starter, but led the offense this year with the poise of a much more experienced player.  He has had only 7 interceptions this season and holds a 105.4 QB rating.  While his last 3 games were a bit shaky, his performance for most of the season was stellar.  Look for Auburn to try and take away James’ running game and force Thomas to take over the game in order to win.

While not quite as explosive as Oregon’s offense, Auburn’s offense is high powered and averages 42.7 points and 497.7 yards per game.  The Tigers rank 7th in total offense nationally.  When Auburn football is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.  Newton has led the Tigers to the national title game, despite all his off-field distractions involving his father and the pay-to-play allegations.  Cam Newton’s sheer grit and will to win are intangible qualities that could be the difference in this game.

The passing stats for Newton and Thomas are quite similar.  Like Thomas, Newton also has 28 passing TDs.  He has thrown for 2589 yards and only 6 interceptions.  Newton leads the nation in passing efficiency.  While the passing stats of Newton and Thomas are comparable, the similarities end there.   Cam Newton’s rushing ability makes him a dual threat that Oregon will have to contain.  He is lethal on the ground and has scored 20 rushing TDs this season.  He averages 108.4 rushing yards per game.

So with two unstoppable offenses, which team ends the evening with the national championship title?  The Tigers played 5 games this season against opponents who were ranked 18 or higher, compared to only one for Oregon.  With this schedule, they have found themselves trailing in 8 games, 4 of them by double digits.  Yet the tenacious Tigers always found a way to win.  This resolve epitomizes both Auburn and Newton.  We believe that facing Oregon’s number one offense will certainly be the biggest challenge the Tigers have had all year.  But in the end, their unwavering determination will prevail and they will be crowned the BCS National Champion in a close game.

Heisman Watch – After Cam Newton, Who is #2?

The “pay to play” allegations around Cam Newton continue.  This past weekend, speculation was rampant about whether the Heisman frontrunner would be suspended by Auburn.  Newton played and his performance was once again stellar.  He led the Tigers to a 49-31 victory and an SEC West Title.  Newton had 151 yards rushing and 2 TDs and 148 yards passing, for an additional 2 TDs.  He is the first player in SEC history to rush for 1000 yards and pass for 2000 yards in a single season.   

But since allegations and rumors about Newton still swirl around him, are Heisman voters looking for their second choice?  Fair or not, the Heisman voters are certainly going to consider the “what if” scenarios when it comes to Newton and the prestigious award. 

Voters do not want another Reggie Bush-like scandal that found the 2005 Heisman winner had received improper financial benefits while at USC, thereby making him ineligible.  This past September, Bush forfeited his Heisman before the Heisman Trust could meet to decide whether they were going to strip him of the award.  So, despite Newton being the best player in college football at the moment, voters may indeed look at the next possible candidate. 

Right now, the #2 prospect appears to be Oregon running back LaMichael James.  The sophomore is part of college football’s number one ranked team.  His speed and elusiveness have helped him rush for over 1400 yards this season.  Don’t let James’ size deceive you.  He may be only 5’ 9 “and 185 pounds, but he plows through defenders with his shoulder down like the big brutes.

This past weekend’s game against Cal he managed only 91 yards due to an ankle injury suffered in the second half.  Despite the injury, he fought his way through the final minutes of the game.  The Ducks faced third down and 5.  James put his head down and pounded his way for a first down to help run out the clock and avoid another Cal possession and possible upset.

The Heisman ballots are due by December 6.  The NCAA investigation into Cam Newton will likely take months, perhaps even years, as was the case with Reggie Bush. Since a resolution is unlikely, voters are left with a tough decision.  They can vote for Newton based on his spectacular 2010 performance and hope the allegations around him are unfounded.  Or they can go to their second choice as a means of preserving the “excellence with integrity” aspect of the Heisman. 

In a criminal matter, suspects are innocent until proven guilty.  In an NCAA investigation, no such notion exists.  If Newton is indeed innocent of all the allegations, it is unfair that he could lose the Heisman based solely on accusations and rumors. But, voters are human beings.  The Newton scandal will cause many of them doubt and to simply vote for their second choice based on their gut instinct.  For LaMichael James, being second best may just win him the Heisman this year.

BCS Standings, Week 11…Upsets Ahead for the Unbeaten Top Four?

As we head into this weekend’s slate of college football games, let’s take a look at the current BCS rankings. 

BCS Rankings, Week 11

  1.  Oregon
  2. Auburn
  3. TCU
  4. Boise State
  5. LSU
  6. Stanford
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Nebraska
  9. Ohio State
  10. Oklahoma State

The top four teams enter this weekend with perfect records.  Will they remain unbeaten and retain their BCS standings?  Here is a glimpse of the top 4 and what this weekend just may bring…

Number one Oregon (9-0) travels to Berkeley to take on 5-4 California.  Cal is unbeaten at home and smells an upset.  But the Ducks have a powerful, speedy offense that is unstoppable.  We think the Ducks break Cal’s home game winning streak on Saturday to keep its top position in the BCS rankings. 

Auburn (10-0) heads into the weekend at number two to face the 5-5 Georgia Bulldogs, who have won 4 of their last 5 games.  Auburn QB and Heisman hopeful Cam Newton is in the midst of “pay to play” allegations.  Each day the scandal seems to escalate and there is speculation that the NCAA may POSSIBLY ask Auburn to suspend Newton from game participation while the issue is investigated.  It seems unlikely that Newton will be benched for this weekend’s game, but the scrutiny and attention on him must be nerve-wracking.  Is it enough to derail the Tigers?  Nope!  We think Newton and the Tigers handle the off field distractions and earn a decisive victory.

TCU (10-0) earned the number three spot last week after a resounding 47-7 win against then #5 Utah.  Saturday, the Horned Frogs (some mascots are quite amusing, aren’t they?) face San Diego State, who enters the game at 7-2.  If an upset in the top 4 unbeaten teams is to occur, this could be the game! But, we think TCU’s defense (ranked first in the nation) will prove to be too powerful for the Aztec’s offense.  TCU should keep its perfect record heading into next week.

Fourth ranked Boise State (8-0) meets in-state rival Idaho tonight in a game that should be a blow-out.  The Idaho Vandals defense, ranked 103rd in the country, gave up 844 yards last week against Nevada.  Boise State, ranked 2nd in scoring offense in the nation, will simply be too hot to handle.

Week after week, bombshell upsets on the college gridiron shock and amaze us.  It is one of the reasons that college level play is so thrilling!  With the top 4 teams flaunting perfect records as they approach this weekend’s games, will they falter and become part of the “upset alerts” scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen?  Not likely.  The top 4 will preserve their unbeaten statuses this weekend and maintain their current BCS standings as we head into the final stretch of the college season.  As for upsets?  There’s always next week!

Mischief Night at the Coliseum

Tomorrow night, on the eve of Halloween, the USC Trojans host the number one ranked (AP poll), undefeated Oregon Ducks. On an evening known for Halloween mischief, can the Trojans pull off a trick and regain some of their lost stature and respect? 

We think this will be a close game, but Oregon’s offense, ranked number one nationally, gives the Ducks the advantage.  Oregon QB Darron Thomas has over 1500 yards passing and 17 touchdowns this season. USC’s defense ranks 112th nationally against the pass and could have a very long night with Thomas’ ability to score quickly.  Oregon has 14 TD drives lasting less than one minute so far this season!  Now that’s FAST scoring! 

The Duck’s greatest offensive weapon may be Heisman hopeful LaMichael James.  As college football’s leading rusher, he is averaging 161 yards a game.  At only 5’ 9 “and 185 pounds, his size is deceiving.  He is shifty, elusive and fast, but also drives through defenders with his shoulder down as if he’s Brandon Jacobs.  The Trojan defense has been plagued with injuries and the secondary is a young, inexperienced group.  So expect James to produce big numbers against the Trojans and be a key factor in their win.

USC is 5-2 this season, with its 2 losses coming on last second field goals.  The Trojans are not used to being the underdog and will not go down without a tough fight.  With a home crowd, the presence of ESPN GameDay and a chip on their shoulder from having to endure recruiting scandals and a two-year bowl ban, an upset is not out of the question.

Besides trying to slow down Oregon’s fast spread-option offense, what can USC do to create some mischief and hand the Ducks a trick, rather than a treat?  The Trojan offense needs to score! USC QB Matt Barkley is playing at a high level right now and has eliminated the interceptions he threw early in the season.  Since Oregon’s offense scores so quickly, their defense is vulnerable to getting tired. If USC can control the pace of the game on the offensive side, it may be able to keep up with the high scoring ability of the Ducks.

On the night before Halloween, we expect a whole sack of treats from these two talented Pac-10 rivals. Game time is 8 PM EST at the Los Angeles Coliseum and will be broadcast nationwide on ABC.  Will this prove to be “fright night” for the Ducks? We don’t think so.  We expect a high scoring game, with Oregon clinching the conference title and heading to a BCS title game in January.  If you are an Oregon fan, that is indeed a very sweet treat!

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