BCS title game is a clash of offensive titans
By now you've probably heard plenty about this year's Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton. And while he'll play a significant role in tonight's national title game -- in that he comprises the majority of Auburn's offense, because he plays a role that combines quarterback and running back -- there's much more to this BCS Championship game than just one player.
Who is Oregon's quarterback? He wears No. 1, he leads the nation's top-ranked offense, and his name is Darron Thomas. He is just as proficient at executing the zone-read option as Newton is, and Thomas has the added benefit of having the nation's top rusher at his disposal in running back LaMichael James.
And what exactly IS the zone-read option that both Auburn and Oregon's high-tempo offenses employ? In this scheme, the offense leaves a specific opponent purposely unblocked and therefore free to go after either their running back or quarterback. The quarterback quickly reads where that opponent chooses to go and will either keep the ball for himself or give it to the running back, depending on who is in the best position to avoid the oncoming opponent's tackle.
Putting the numbers in perspective. The ability of linemen to accomplish their jobs is always important, but it's become a storyline of this particular matchup because of the size disparity. Take Oregon's defensive line vs. Auburn's offensive line, which is led by Lee Ziemba. Ziemba is 6-foot-8 and 319 lbs and a left tackle -- if you saw the movie The Blind Side, he plays the same position as Michael Oher. Oregon can't come close to those numbers. The height of these linemen differs by an average of only one inch, but when it comes to weight, Auburn has an additional 48 lbs average per person. That's like the difference between pre- and post-weight loss Kelly Osbourne.
X-factor. When Auburn has to punt the ball, the number 13 might be unlucky for them. That's the number of Oregon's Cliff Harris, who ranks first in the nation in punt returns.