Fact: At some point, the SEC will lose a BCS Championship Game. It’s going to happen. Sometime, somewhere, an SEC team will come up short in the big game.
But it won’t happen tonight.
Since the advent of the BCS, the SEC is a perfect 6-0 in title games.
1998 — Tennessee 23, Florida State 16
2003 — LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
2006 — Florida 41, Ohio State 14
2007 — LSU 38, Ohio State 24
2008 — Florida 24, Oklahoma 14
2009 — Alabama 37, Texas 21
Tonight it’s Auburn’s turn to push the league’s record to 7-0 in national title games. Doing so will also insure that the crystal football resides in the Deep South for a fifth-straight year.
And the Tigers will get it done. Barely. Before we give you our 3 reasons for an AU victory, let’s take a last look at some key statistical comparisons…
Quick Strike Ratings: The number of plays run between touchdowns by each offense.
||Total Offensive TDs
||Plays Per TD
Auburn gets the slight edge, scoring a touchdown once every 12 plays run. The Tigers went up against tougher defenses in the SEC, too, so this indicator deserves attention.
Offensive Efficiency Ratings: The number of points scored as compared to the total amount of offensive yards gained.
||Offensive Yards Gained
||Yards Per Point
This category takes into account special teams and defensive ability, too. Good returns and/or turnovers — for example — set up offenses with shorter fields. A slight edge to Oregon in this one.
Slow Grind Ratings: The number of plays an opposing offense has to run between touchdowns
||Total TDs Allowed
||Plays Per TD Allowed
A big advantage to Oregon in this category. The Ducks have made their opponents work much harder for scores than the Tigers have.
Defensive Efficiency Ratings: The number of points allowed as compared to the total amount of yards allowed by a defense.
||Defensive Yards Allowed
||Yards Per Point Allowed
Again, Oregon has the edge. Duck opponents have had to put more work into scoring than Auburn’s foes have.
Oregon holds the edge in a couple of other key areas, too:
Turnover Margin: Oregon +13, Auburn +5
Sacks Allowed: Oregon 7, Auburn 21
So if Oregon holds a clear advantage in so many important categories why are we picking Auburn?
1. Rust Less Of A Worry For Auburn.
A 40-day layoff can result in an awful lot of rust. But Auburn is more reliant upon just one truly special player than Oregon is. While the Ducks’ precision offense might have some hiccups after so many weeks off, Cam Newton remains a person who can take over a game by himself. His ability to run over and around linebackers should not have been affected by a few weeks off.
2. Auburn Is Mentally Tough.
Auburn has been on a big stage before. The Tigers have already bested Arkansas and LSU in nationally televised showdowns. They also put together a comeback for the ages to win 28-27 at Alabama in the Iron Bowl. And with Newton once again the focus of the press leading up to the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers whooped up on South Carolina 56-17. This team has proven its mental toughness again and again. Oregon won a 52-31 shootout over Stanford back on October 2nd. But the Ducks didn’t face another squad the rest of the way that finished with fewer than five losses. Their last game on this type of media stage was last year’s Rose Bowl… which Oregon lost to Ohio State.
3. Auburn’s D Will Be The Difference
You can expect a shootout. To the tune of 75+ points perhaps. But you can also expect Auburn’s defense — battle-tested through the wars of the Southeastern Conference — to be one-stop better than Oregon’s tonight. If the game comes down to one team being able to make a stop on defense, expect the SEC defense to be the D to get it done.
Prediction: Auburn 38, Oregon 35