Ducks superior, but …
Los Angeles Times
It might be the most exciting and high-scoring game in BCS title-game history.
Auburn would have the two best players on the field in quarterback Cam Newton and defensive lineman Nick Fairley, but Oregon is the more balanced team.
Oregon might score 60 on Auburn's defense, but Auburn might push 50 on Oregon. A turnover here or there and we could be looking at 55-55 headed into overtime.
Auburn is by far the worst defensive team of the four remaining unbeaten teams, ranked 51st this week in the NCAA stats. Auburn reminds me of the Ohio State team in 2002 that won the national title by pulling out game after game on its way to the national title. Miami was the superior team that year, but Ohio State pulled off the huge upset in the Fiesta Bowl.
And this year's national title is back in ... Arizona.
Oregon is a cut above
The question isn't who would win, but rather who has the more impressive resume. And after 10 and 11 games of empirical data, respectively, you're not a quack-head if you calculate Oregon to be a slightly but nonetheless measurably better club.
Both are 4-0 against teams in the Sagarin ratings top 30. Oregon's schedule has been slightly more taxing, per Sagarin, but Auburn has three wins against ranked teams to Oregon's two.
The Pac-10 and SEC are 1-2 in conference strength. Oregon is ranked in the national top 20 in 11 major categories, while Auburn is top 20 in six. Especially given the defensive disparity, the Ducks trump the Tigers. But they both can earn a chance to opinion out of it.
Defending the Ducks
Oregon is better they are more of a team.
If you took away LaMichael James, arguably Oregon's best player, there's a good chance the Ducks would be pretty good. They would certainly hold their own in the Pac-10 and outside the conference.
You may think offense when you think about the Ducks, but they're ranked 20th in the country in total defense. And you know what they say about defense.
If you took Cam Newton, arguably the nation's best player, off the Auburn roster, the Tigers would not be able to hold their own, and certainly not in the SEC.
Case in point: Saturday's win over Georgia? If Newton doesn't throw for two touchdowns and run for two, if he doesn't throw for 148 yards and rush for 151, does Auburn win? The Tigers struggled against the five-win Bulldogs and would have lost had they not had the most dynamic player in college football today.
When it comes to Auburn, that can be said for a lot of its games.
Oregon dashes to top
The Ducks are No. 1 for a reason. With a breakneck offense that averages nearly a point a minute and leaves defenses gassed, it's never a question of it a defense will break, but when.
LaMichael James is a dynamic player who is deservedly in the Heisman discussion. If that weren't enough, the Ducks have a top-20 defense.
On the field, at least, Auburn is lucky to have quarterback Cam Newton, who has played better than other college player this season.
We'll see if they get to face off to prove it, but for now, Oregon is clearly better.