BCS title game set to be a high-flying affair

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:43 AM ET

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — About the last thing you’d expect to unfold in Monday’s BCS title game is defence deciding the U.S. college football championship.

Not with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton leading the Auburn attack, both on the ground and through the air.

Not with the Oregon Ducks scoring so fast that opposing defences have been left gasping and going all World Cup soccer by faking injuries to slow the attack.

And certainly not with defences on each team that have at least appeared to be bit players in the undefeated seasons that got both to the big game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Final say

But when it’s time to catch a breath, and a month of preparations gives way to a new NCAA champion here in the Sonoran Desert, the defence just might have the final say.

“It’s going to be up to us, clear as day,” Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes said. “You have to stop somebody at some point.”

Of course, with an over/under betting line total of 74, it could come down to whoever forces two punts first wins.

Yes, defence may win championships, but offences like this shoot the entertainment value through the roof.

More numbers: Auburn is ranked 53rd in points per game allowed (24.5) while if you take out two early shutouts against glorified high school teams, the Ducks would be 37th (22.1).

And neither of those totals included trying to shut down an offence like they’ll face here.

If physical size is a determining factor, then the Tigers certainly hold the advantage, led by defensive tackle Nick Fairley, projected as an early first-rounder for this spring’s NFL draft should he decide to declare early.

Auburn has the added edge of coming from the ultra-tough Southeastern Conference, which has now won four consecutive BCS Championship games (in most recent order, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Florida).

“Have you ever seen any other team we played?” Oregon running back LaMichael James said in defence of the under-sized Ducks. “Everybody is bigger than us. I think we are probably the smallest team in college football. Size doesn’t matter at all.”

How small are these Duckies? Consider that all but three of their starting defenders weigh less than 250-pound Auburn quarterback Newton.

“It’s great to see other defensive players just bouncing off of him,” Auburn running back Michael Dyer said of the Tigers’ offensive leader, who can hurt you like a fullback and burn you like a quarterback. “How do you stop a team whose quarterback runs guys over?”

That’ll be Oregon’s big challenge, but what about the reverse? Is there any way to slow down the Ducks, who’ve scored more than 60 points three times this season and have 53 plays of 25 yards or longer?

“Our coaches actually slow the tape down for us,” Auburn defensive end Nosa Egua said of the month of preparations leading to the big showdown.

And it’s not like the Tigers can’t score either, especially when they get behind early.

“We scored 65 against Arkansas, and they are a pretty good team,” Auburn centre Ryan Pugh said. “Not taking anything away from Oregon, but I think we can win a shootout.

“And we can spot you 24.

Pugh was referring to the Tigers’ biggest win of the season and one of the most exciting college games of the season, when they fell behind 24-0 to defending-champion Alabama before pulling out a 28-27 road win.

“Coming back in the most hostile environment in college football was incredible. It showed that we are never out of it.”

If the Ducks are all they’re quacked up to be, it may end up being a case of last man with the ball wins.

“I think everybody would agree that this is going to be a great game,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said on Sunday. “Will it come down to one or two plays that people remember forever? Maybe.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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