Oregon vs. Auburn, Part I
I have no idea whether Oregon is going to beat Auburn for the national championship. I’ll probably change my mind a dozen times between now and Jan. 10. But I do know that some Duck fans are clinging to an absurd hypothesis for why their team will win.
“I trust Chip Kelly if he has five weeks to prepare” is something I have heard from several Oregon supporters.
Um, perhaps they don’t remember last year’s Rose Bowl, in which Kelly was grossly outcoached by Jim Tressel. Or perhaps they don’t remember the 2009 season opener, when Oregon recorded exactly zero first downs in the first half against Boise State. Plenty of time to prepare for both those games.
Kelly is a great coach. Heck, the man is 22-3 at Oregon, including 17-1 in the Pac-10. But if he doesn’t come up with a couple unexpected wrinkles for his offense, the Ducks are going to get stuffed.
One thing I would bet on is more running by quarterback Darron Thomas. Thomas carried a total of seven times in the final two regular-season games, after carrying 29 in the previous two. Some of that might have been the defensive schemes the Ducks were facing, but I’ll bet some of it was to keep Thomas healthy and to keep Oregon from tipping its hand for the title game.