S ports in Paradise by Dale Jones
So here we go Auburn Fans, a shot at the title. A place that no one, not even the Auburn faithful, expected to be at the end of this season. Now, on the tails of an Alabama National Championship, comes the Auburn Tigers with a chance to bring the trophy back to the state for a second year in a row.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly is the AP Coach of the Year. Gene Chizik finished second.
Auburn’s Cam Newton is the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner. Oregon’s LaMichael James came in third.
Auburn comes in sporting an undefeated 13-0 record, a feat that is tough to pull off for any team that calls the SEC home. The Ducks, champs of the Pac-10, are ranked second in the nation with a 12-0 record.
For the fifth straight year, an SEC team is playing in, and has a shot of winning, the national championship game.
With two very fast-paced offenses, and two defenses that are suspect from time to time, this game could be symbolized by a firecracker. You light the fuse, you step away and watch, and at some point, you know that it is going to explode.
Will the Tigers and Ducks be true to form and run a gazillion plays each and score 200 points? I’m not sure.
But this SEC vs. PAC-10 match-up, something that has never happened in a BSC bowl game, should be plenty exciting.
It is always fun to watch two teams that have never competed against each other, and when that meeting finally happens in the championship game, it makes it even sweeter.
If you look on any PAC-10 related message board, it is obvious that the fans believe that the SEC is overrated. If you look at an SEC blog, the feeling is mutual.
So how do we pick this game? Two teams, both undefeated, that have never played against each other. Two conferences that have never met in a BCS bowl game.
I remember a former high school football coach that I knew who often wore a shirt that said “defense wins.” He believed that on any given Saturday, the team that had the most effective defense, that made the least amount of turnovers, would win the game.
Although I am not completely sold on that philosophy, in this final game of the 2010-2011 season, I would have to agree.
Both teams will move the ball. They will jump up and run plays faster than Brett Favre can send a text message. Cam and LaMichael will both have big games. But ultimately, the SEC will win. Yes, it will be in the form of the Auburn Tigers, but it will be because of the hard-hitting, physical defenses that the Tigers have to face in these parts throughout the season. Oregon has never been hit like they will be hit on January 10.
Call me a homer if you want, but when it comes to tough, blue-collar, hard-nosed defense, the SEC is better than the PAC-10 hands down.
This could be a close match. Expect lots of points to be scored, but at the end of the day, the Tigers, and the SEC, will bring home the trophy.
We can only hope that the officials bring some reserves for this track meet.
Auburn 45 – Oregon 41
Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org