Saturday, January 8, 2011
Something has to give in the second half
By Ted Miller
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Oregon and Auburn are the same: They both thrive in the second half. And they are different: The Ducks have yet to trail in the fourth quarter and just one foe lost by less than 11 points. The Tigers have trailed in eight of 13 games and won six by single digits.
Both teams dominate the second half. Auburn has outscored foes 246 to 117 after the break, including 125-48 in the fourth quarter. Oregon has outscored foes in 277-77 in the second half, including 115-24 in the fourth quarter.
Oregon has trailed three times at halftime -- Stanford, California, Arizona -- and only Cal stayed close with the Ducks into the fourth quarter. Tennessee, Arizona State and Oregon State were tight with the Ducks at halftime but ended up losing by 35, 11 and 17 points.
The Ducks often looked like a completely different team after halftime.
"That's something we take a lot of pride in, in terms of having a second-half mindset, a finish mindset," offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said.
Auburn trailed Clemson, South Carolina (regular season) and Alabama at halftime this year and was tied with LSU and Georgia. It trailed by double-digits at some point in four games. But the Tigers also were a different team in the second half. Not that they wouldn't like to be a good first-half team, too.
"We'd like to get that corrected before we run out of the tunnel to start the game," Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "I even thought of blindfolding them before the game started and telling them it was the start of the second half."
But Roof did have a serious explanation, which is not unlike what Oregon coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti have said: We want to see what teams do against us, then adjust.
"We've seen several times teams doing things we haven't seen before in the first halves," Roof said.
Every team wants to own the second half and the fourth quarter. Finishing strong says something good about a team. But both Auburn and Oregon would prefer to be in top form for all four quarters, particularly when they meet Monday in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
"There's a discrepancy there," Roof said. "And we can't afford to do that in this game against this bunch."