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Just The Sports: Auburn Tigers Will Win BCS Title And Here Is Why

Just The Sports

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Auburn Tigers Will Win BCS Title And Here Is Why

Most would agree that the Auburn Tigers and the Oregon Ducks are the two best college football teams in the nation. Yet, besides just knowing these two teams are the best, it is also worthwhile to take a truly comprehensive look at just how dominant these teams have been in their games and which team has been more dominant than the other. By dominant, what I mean is how well each team performed against their opponents in comparison to how well their opponents played in every other game besides the ones where they were facing Oregon or Auburn; in simpler terms, it is gauging how poorly a team makes its opponents play.

On the offensive side of the ball, Oregon completed 62.1 percent of their passes, gained 7.9 yards per pass attempt and 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt, averaged 6.1 yards per rush, accumulated 12.7 yards per completion, had an 8.2 touchdown percentage and a 2.0 interception percentage, and were sacked on 1.9 percent of their pass attempts.

In every game besides the ones in which they played Oregon, Oregon's opponents allowed their opponents to complete 59.5 percent of their passes, gain 7.2 yards per pass attempt and 6.8 adjusted yards per pass attempt, average 4.4 yards per rush, accumulate 12.0 yards per completion, post a 5.1 touchdown percentage and 3.0 interception percentage, score 49.3 points per game, and they sacked opposing quarterbacks on 6.7 percent of their pass attempts.

That means that when facing Oregon, due to the Ducks' high-powered offensive attack, teams allowed a 4.4 percent higher completion percentage, 9.7 percent more yards per pass attempt, 27.9 percent more adjusted yards per pass attempt, 38.6 percent more yards per rush, 5.8 percent more yards per completion, a 60.8 percent higher touchdown percentage, and 84.0 percent more points per game. Oregon's opponents were also 33.3 percent less likely to intercept a pass from an Oregon quarterback and 77.6 percent less likely to sack an Oregon quarterback than they were to intercept and sack a quarterback in other games.

There are a couple of things that should immediately jump out at you after looking at these statistics. The first is how much the Oregon offense relies upon their vaunted rushing attack led by LaMichael James. They depend on their ground game's domination much more than they do upon quarterback Darren Thomas' ability to throw the ball efficiently.

The second noteworthy conclusion to draw is that Thomas is not the kind of quarterback who should strike great fear in the hearts of any defense. In terms of passing accuracy and value of his passes as measured by yards per pass attempt and yards per completion, Thomas is really not that much better than any other quarterback Oregon's opponents have faced. Actually, Thomas has only completed 60.7 percent of his passes, which is not indicative of an elite quarterbacking talent.

Where Thomas is dangerous as a passer is in his knack for throwing a high number of touchdown passes relative to his pass attempts and barely throwing any interceptions. He is also virtually impossible to sack.

If Auburn wants to shut down Oregon's offense, the Tigers should do all they can to make Thomas beat them with his arm. It is unlikely he would be able to do so.

As dominant as Oregon has been on offense this season, what Auburn has put together on offense makes Oregon's look almost pedestrian in comparison. During games against Auburn, Auburn's opponents allowed a 18.5 percent higher completion percentage (66.7 percent to 56.3 percent), 50.0 percent more yards per attempt (10.5 to 7.0), 85.7 percent more adjusted yards per pass attempt (11.7 to 6.3), 67.6 percent more yards per rush (6.2 to 3.7), a 141.3 percent higher touchdown percentage (11.1 percent to 4.6 percent), 37.8 percent lower interception percentage (2.3 percent to 3.7 percent), and 85.7 percent more points per game (42.7 to 23.0) than in games where they faced anyone else. Auburn quarterbacks, however, were 1.4 percent more likely to be sacked than other quarterbacks.

Not only has the Auburn offense been more dominant than Oregon's offense in every category except interception percentage, but it is also a harder one to stop because the Tigers can run and pass at almost the same dominant level. Unlike Oregon where there is a pretty sizable drop-off between their proficiency in running the ball and passing, Auburn experiences no such difficulties.

Try to bottle up Auburn's rushing game and Cam Newton and his receivers will just hurt you with big pass plays. Focus solely on stopping the big pass play and Auburn will just run the ball at will.

Despite the Herculean task stopping Auburn's offense is, Oregon's defense will be charged with just that task Monday night, and the defense should be able to keep Auburn from running and passing roughshod over it and completely embarrassing it. Although Oregon's offense is the one getting all the publicity, Oregon's defense has been equally dominant, if not more so.

Compared to how opposing offenses performed against Oregon as opposed to the other teams on their schedules, they experienced a 10.4 percent decrease in completion percentage (59.7 percent to 53.5 percent), 19.7 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (7.1 to 5.4), 38.2 percent decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (6.8 to 4.2), 10.9 percent decrease in yards per completion (11.9 to 10.6), 21.4 percent decrease in yards per rush (4.2 to 3.3), 44.2 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (5.2 percent to 2.9 percent), 46.7 percent increase in interception percentage (3.0 percent to 4.4 percent), 4.5 percent decrease in sack percentage (6.7 percent to 6.4 percent), and 46.2 percent decrease in points scored per game (26.6 to 18.4).

As you can see, the Oregon defense is equally adept at stopping opponents' rushing and passing attacks as long as you do not expect them to sack the quarterback. However, even with their excellent defensive statistics, if they play in the same dominating fashion against Auburn, Auburn's offense is still potent enough to move the ball well enough to score points.

Auburn's defense, too, has seen its opponents struggle to move the ball against them although they have been not nearly so outstanding as the Oregon defense. Still, Auburn's opponents underwent a 12.7 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (7.9 to 6.9), 9.2 percent decrease in adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.6 to 6.9), a 15.4 percent decrease in yards per reception (13.0 to 11.0), 16.9 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (5.9 percent to 4.9 percent), 12.1 percent increase in sack percentage (5.8 percent to 6.5 percent), and 20.7 percent decrease in points per game (30.9 to 24.5) compared to their statistics in all other games.

On the other hand, opposing quarterbacks have experienced a 2.8 increase in completion percentage (61.0 percent to 62.7 percent) and a 36.4 percent decrease in interception percentage (3.3 percent to 2.1 percent) relative to their performances in other games. If there is going to be an interception thrown in the game, it is much more likely to be thrown by Cam Newton than Darren Thomas.

Auburn's defense's greatest strength is in its ability to stop the run, which will come in handy since Oregon's offense's greatest strength is running the ball. Where Auburn is susceptible on defense is when the Tigers are called upon to defend the pass, which should surprise no one who has watched any of their games. Luckily for Auburn, where they are weaker is also where Oregon's offense is weaker.

The matchup between Auburn's defense and Oregon's offense will pit strength against strength and weakness against weakness and Auburn's defense is a lot more equipped to stop Oregon's offense than Oregon's defense is to stop Auburn's offense.

So far, Oregon and Auburn have been compared as if they both faced competition of equal ability, but that is not the case. With only two exceptions, Oregon's opponents' defenses were better at containing yards per completion (12.0 to 12.4) and Oregon's opponents' offenses were better at avoiding interceptions (3.0 interception percentage to 3.3 interception percentage), Auburn faced a better quality of opponent. Therefore, the two team's statistics have to be adjusted in order to determine how they compare to each other on an equal level.

After the adjustment, the advantage Auburn already has on offense becomes even more pronounced. They increase their already superior dominance over Oregon's offense in completion percentage, yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, yards per completion, yards per rush, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and points. There are not enough compliments that can be heaped upon the Auburn offense to describe how incredible their production has been this season.

Oregon's offense is still much better at avoiding sacks, but that one advantage is nothing compared to Auburn's multiple ones.

Defensively after making the adjustments, it is Oregon who has proven themselves more adept than Auburn at stopping opponents. Oregon's defense has been a lot better than Auburn's defense in yards per pass attempt allowed, adjusted yards per pass attempt allowed, completion percentage allowed, touchdown percentage allowed, interception percentage, and points allowed.

It is not all bad news for Auburn's defense, though. The Tigers' defense is better than Oregon's defense in yards per completion allowed and sack percentage and equal to Oregon in stopping the run.

The advantage Oregon holds on defense, however, does not mean as much as the advantage that Auburn holds on offense because Oregon is just proving themselves to be better than the weaker part of Auburn's team. Auburn is even better by a vast margin than the stronger part of Oregon's team.

Plus the Oregon defense will not be playing against the Auburn defense; it will be facing the Auburn offense that has shown itself to be nonpareil this season as they have put up amazing numbers against what were otherwise stingy defenses. As dominant as Oregon's defense has shown itself to be even after the adjustments for quality of opponent, Auburn's offense is more unstoppable. It will be asking too much to expect Oregon's defense to contain Auburn as much as it will need to for the Ducks to emerge victorious.

On the other hand, it will not be asking too much for Auburn's defense to contain Oregon's offense since Oregon's offense is fairly one-dimensional and will not be able to effectively attack Auburn's defense where it is weakest; namely, against the pass.

When the Auburn Tigers square off against the Oregon Ducks Monday night, because of their extremely dominant offense, they will have the best unit on the field on either side of the ball and that should be enough for the Tigers to win the game.

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