10 Reasons Why Auburn Will Win The BCS Champ.
Auburn QB Cam Newton
Auburn QB Cam Newton
Posted Dec 22, 2010

The Pac 10 wasn't that great this year, great defenses haven't been a problem for the Tigers, good passing quarterbacks have rocked against the Ducks, the SEC's history, Gus Malzahn is staying put, and one Heisman winner. These are just a few the reasons why Auburn will win the BCS Championship (last week was why Oregon will win) in Part Two of this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Dec. 22 - Week 16, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Dec. 21 - Naming the Big Ten divisions after Bo & Woody, and the solution

- COMING CHRISTMAS DAY: The Holiday Gifts & Wishes For Every Team.

  Ten reasons why Auburn will win the BCS Championship. Don't get mad, Oregon fans, last week were the ten reasons why the Ducks will win. We'll get into the nuts and bolts of the matchup later next week in the bowl previews. These are ten non-X-and-O reasons …

10. The Pac 10 sort of sucks this year
Oregon might be a national title-good team that just so happened to play a mediocre slate. However, it's not like the Ducks played a who's who of killers with just one win over a team currently ranked in the BCS top 25. The lone decent road victory came against a Tennessee team that's only in a bowl because it's lone win over a bowl team came against Kentucky at home in the regular season finale. The Ducks' second best win was at USC, who, to be fair, would've gone to the Holiday Bowl if eligible. It's not like they had to beat Alabama, Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina (twice), Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia. Auburn has more than proven itself against top-shelf competition. Oregon hasn't.

9. Great defenses don't seem to faze the Tigers.
Before having to deal with Auburn in mid-October, LSU was third in the nation in total defense and sixth against the run. AU tore off 440 rushing yards and three scores as Cam Newton all but cemented the Heisman. Auburn's ground game was stuffed early on by Alabama, so Newton started throwing against the nation's No. 2 team in pass efficiency defense completing 13-of-20 passes for 216 yards and three scores. In all, Auburn beat teams that finished sixth (Alabama), eighth (LSU), 30th (Georgia), 33rd (Arkansas), 51st (South Carolina) and 52nd (Mississippi State) in total defense. Oregon only beat three teams with defenses ranked higher than Mississippi State. Stanford was one (24th), Arizona was another (36th), and the third was …

8. California
The game against California was supposed to be the truest indicator of what Oregon really was. It was the one time the Ducks had a chance to show up against a real, live defense away from Autzen Stadium, and while they didn't fail, they were less than impressive. Nevada's Pistol attack rolled for 316 yards on the ground and 497 yards of total offense in a commanding 52-31 blowout over the Bears. Stanford powered its way to 232 rushing yards in a 48-14 blasting, and Oregon State ran for three scores in a 35-7 blowout. Oregon managed just 162 yards on the ground, 317 yards of total offense, and won 15-13 with just one offensive score. Auburn's worst offensive output came against Alabama, amassing 324 yards, and California isn't anywhere near the Tide's class. Struggling against Cal late in the year with everything on the line wasn't exactly confidence inspiring.

7. Gus Malzahn isn't the Vanderbilt head coach
There's a lot of crow eating right now by those of us who criticized the hiring of Gene Chizik, but it was impossible to completely grasp just how important the role of the coordinators would be. While Chizik is getting all the awards and all the accolades, the one thing he did right, above all else, was hire Malzahn, the best offensive coordinator in football. Cam Newton might be a talent, but Malzahn, who did wonders with far less talented players, made him special while creating the offensive juggernaut that gets running production out of everyone. It could've been a huge distraction had Malzahn bolted to Vanderbilt or to another open job, but the mega-deal that'll pay him at least a million a year, and possibly as much as $1.3 million, settled the situation. Now all the focus for Malzahn, and the Tiger offense, can be on the Oregon defense.

6. Good throwing quarterbacks
Oregon might have finished sixth in the nation in pass efficiency defense, but it allowed 387 yards and three scores to Arizona State's Steven Threet. Stanford's Andrew Luck threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns, USC's Matt Barkley threw for 264 yards and a score, Arizona's Nick Foles threw for 448 yards and three touchdowns, and the Ducks missed Washington's Jake Locker. They came up with nine total picks against the four strong Pac 10 passers, but they still got picked apart. Cam Newton led the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown just one interception in his last seven games.

5. The SEC history
In case you haven't noticed, the SEC doesn't miss when it comes to championship games. Since the BCS started up in 1999, after the 1998 season, the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac 10 are a combined 6-12 in title games. The SEC is 6-0. You never mess with a streak, and with a run of Florida, LSU, Florida, and Alabama over the last four years, Auburn appears to be the next in line. After getting the short end of the stick in the 2004 and 1983 national title debates, Auburn is one game away from finally exorcising all of its demons while keeping the title in the house of the best conference in college football. Oregon isn't just fighting Auburn; it's fighting history. The last non-USC team currently in the Pac 10 to win an outright, unquestioned national championship was California … in 1920.

4. Oregon, welcome to a defensive line
This offseason, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker had some work to do. There was size, athleticism, and some experience to count on, but there wasn't a lot of proven star power. That changed in a big hurry as defensive tackle Nick Fairley won all the big awards as the best lineman in America. He showed promise last year, but he didn't exactly have Lombardi Award written all over him. Fellow tackle Zach Clayton is a senior, as is pass rushing terror Antoine Carter on the outside, to go along with several young, talented playmakers led by Nosa Eguae on the outside and Jeffrey Whitaker working behind Clayton. This is now a deep, talented front four that's 11th in the nation against the run and it's 22nd in sacks and 25th in tackles for loss with everything working around the superstar on the inside. Oregon hasn't had to face a bunch of great defensive lines, and now it'll deal with one that probably won't need to resort to fake injuries to produce playmakers.

3. 37 days
With a few exceptions here and there (like Florida State over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl), the better defensive team almost always beats the high-octane offensive team in national championships. Of course, Auburn and Oregon are both known for their offenses, and the Duck defense is statistically better, but there's a big difference. Oregon's attack is based more on tempo and timing, and Auburn's is built more on power and blocking. It sometimes takes a while for the Ducks to wake up under normal circumstances, and they could have a nightmare of a time against a Tiger D with several weeks to prepare for all the subtle nuances. Without fail, even with the 15 practices, offenses that rely on precision and timing have problems getting in sync with several over a month off, and while that could be a problem for Oregon, Auburn can always simply power the ball. Oregon's offensive line is terrific, but it's not exactly going to blast away on the rested and ready Tigers.

2. Cam Newton
Oregon might have a sensational running back in LaMichael James, and he and top backup Kenjon Barner combined for 2,201 yards and 27 scores compared to the 2,108 yards and 19 touchdowns from the three-headed monster of Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb, and Mario Fannin. While Darron Thomas is a fantastic quarterback, Oregon doesn't have Cam Newton. Time and again this year, Newton overcame on and off-the-field adversity to produce with jaw-dropping performances in November against Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, and there's nothing Oregon can throw at him that he doesn't appear able to handle. Pressure him like Alabama did, and pay the consequences in the secondary the times when you don't get to him. Lay back and try to keep the big running plays to a minimum, like LSU did, and risk getting a 6-6, 250-pound steamroller coming down the hill with momentum.

The Heisman winner is on the verge of becoming another Tim Tebow and another Vince Young as they type of transcendent star who appears destined to add a national title to his legacy. Those crickets you're hearing is the sound of the lack of news about Newton's issues, and while the scrutiny will intensity again in the week before the title game, there doesn't appear to be anything new on the horizon. 2010 was Newton's college football season, and this should be his game.

1. The 2010 Rose Bowl
To sound like a movie promo, if you liked the 2010 Rose Bowl, you'll love the 2011 BCS Championship.

The 2010 Oregon Ducks aren't that much different than the 2009 version. The difference in stats partly comes from facing Boise State and Utah last year and New Mexico and Portland State this season, but for the most part, both teams ran wild, both teams were aggressive on defense and efficient on offense. This year's team is doing things a little bit better, and has a lot more experience, but would it have gone unbeaten if it had to go on the road to face Boise State, Stanford, and Arizona like the 2009 version did? But I digress.

This year's team is better. It's crisper, Darron Thomas isn't quite the runner that Jeremiah Masoli was last year, but he's a more effective and efficient passer. LaMichael James is better than he was in 2009, the secondary is stronger, and the defense is better at taking the ball away. But even so, this team isn't vastly different. Last year's team couldn't handle Ohio State, and this year's team should have problems with a similar Auburn squad.

The difference is that Newton is better than Terrelle Pryor was last year. The Tiger passing attack is far more efficient than the Buckeye offense was, yet an injured Pryor threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Yeah, last year was last year, but Pryor ran for 72 yards on a bum leg.

The key to the game turned out to be the time of possession with Ohio State hanging on to the ball for 41:37, and that happened because Pryor kept the chains moving time and again. Auburn isn't great when it comes to time of possession, but Oregon's quick strike attack is far worse ranking 105th in the nation holding on to the ball for 27:56 per game. Oregon's defense is good on third downs, but Auburn's offense is phenomenal ranking third in the nation converting 53.1% of the time. No. 1 is Stanford, who converted 8-of-15 chances against the Ducks and held on to the ball for 33:28.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Play this back when it happens and I don't get full credit. Driving back on a long car trip last Sunday I was listening to the NFL RedZone channel on the iPhone, and, I'll admit, looked at the screen while driving on the DeSean Jackson punt return. In the fog of the fifth hour of driving, it came to me … Classic RedZone. Take one big day of regular season football and do a three-hour run in the RedZone format. In the offseason, everyone would watch it, it would cost about ten bucks and the time of an editor to produce, and it would be like a history lesson.

- Top juniors and third-year sophomores, there will be an NFL. If you planned on turning pro before, don't let the labor strife stop you.

- I'm asking nicely, announcers. Just because a team is celebrating and the 14 fans who showed up are happy, that doesn't mean that bowls are necessary and you don't have to make excuses for the bad bowl game.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Shopping early … Underrated: Shopping at the local drug store on Christmas Day, because everyone wants gift cards anyway.
2) Overrated: T. Boone Pickens … Underrated: Mark Cuban
3) Overrated: Jimmy Clausen ... Underrated: Andrew Luck
4) Overrated: Whining about too many bowl games ... Underrated: Whining about the BCS Championship being on January 10th
5) Overrated: Lane Kiffin as the man to turn around USC ... Underrated: Lane Kiffin as the man who led to an NCAA investigation into possible recruiting violations at Tennessee.

"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… All the bowl picks to come next week. … Week 17 Results: 1) UTEP +11.5 over BYU (L BYU 52-24), 2) Fresno State +1 over Northern Illinois (L 40-17), 3) Troy -1.5 over Ohio (W, 48-21) ... (Past picks to come) Auburn -3 over Oregon and Nebraska -13 over Washington 

This week's picks: 1) Utah +17.5 over Boise State, 2) Tulsa +10.5 over Hawaii, 3) Toledo -1.5 over FIU … Record So Far: ATS 25-15-2

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … I went 9-3 this year and my defense never gave up more than 21 points. And then I got fired.

 Dec. 21 - Naming the Big Ten divisions after Bo & Woody, and the solution

- COMING CHRISTMAS DAY: The Holiday Gifts & Wishes For Every Team.