SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Some interesting numbers from ESPN Stats & Information to consider before the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
Auburn Qquarterback Cam Newton has been much better throwing downfield over the second half of the season. On throws of over 20 yards over the past five games, he's completed 66.7 percent with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. In the first eight games, he completed just 34.5 percent with four TDs and five interceptions. FYI: Watch out for receiver Darvin Adams: Five of those TDs went to him, averaging 31.1 yards per reception.
A problem for Oregon's defense, which likes to blitz: Newton does his best work vs. the blitz. When opponents blitz, Newton has completed 73 percent of his passes with 10 TDs and no interceptions.
Since 2009, LaMichael James has produced 36 runs of more than 20 yards. That's the most in the nation.
Newton produced 29 runs of 15-plus yards this season, tops in the nation. He averaged 10.3 yards on 30 quarterback draws this season and 9.5 yards on 39 scrambles.
This might be a mild surprise (unless you watch a lot of Oregon football): James gained 53.9 percent of his rushing yards between the tackles. In comparison, the physical Heisman Trophy winner from last year, Alabama's Mark Ingram, gained just 41.4 percent of his yards between the tackles this season.
Of course, James is dangerous outside. He averages 7.2 yards per carry outside the tackles, 5.2 ypg inside the tackles.
Both teams can score at warp speed. Oregon has 23 TD drives of three plays or fewer this year. Auburn has 20. The Ducks have 44 TD drives that took less than two minutes; the Tigers have 30. Oregon is No. 1 in the nation in both numbers. Auburn is No. 2 and No. 4, respectively.
Oregon leads the nation in lowest time of possession on TD drives: 1:49.
Count on plenty of big plays. Auburn produced 58 plays of 25-plus yards, including 25 TDs. Oregon produced 53 plays of 25-plus yards, including 27 TDs. The TD counts rank first and second in the nation.
Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas is at his best using play-action passes. On throws of 15-plus yards after a run fake, he's tossed 11 TDs and a single interception.