In my last fan post I researched the myth that Auburn's massive size advantage would help them beat the Ducks in the National Championship game. During the resulting discussion, other myths about Auburn vs Oregon were thought of and I decided to research one of those other myths as well. The myth that Auburn will not be affected by Oregon's pace of play because they play, "just as fast" with their offense.
I have heard this many times already since last Saturday determined that the Ducks and Tigers would meet for the BCS Championship. From ESPN to even the local talk radio stations in Portland, many pundits are repeating this line of thinking, so me being the go getter that I am, I decided to look up the stats.
First I looked up Oregon's stats because we have heard all season that they are ridiculous, and they didn't disappoint me. Oregon averaged 81 plays per game for the season, their average time of possession, (TOP) was 25:50, which equates to Oregon using about 19.1 seconds of play clock time to get off each play. As most Duck fans know, the Ducks push the tempo better than anyone, with them routinely taking under 20 actual seconds to snap the ball for the next play, after the whistle is blown on the current play.
Auburn's numbers came next, they averaged 68 plays per game, 27:30 TOP which maths out to about 24.3 seconds of play clock time per play. That is over 5 seconds slower than Oregon, or about 20% slower. That might not seem like much, but look at it this way, the most number of plays Auburn was able to sqeeze into a game this year was 80, Oregon AVERAGED 81 with a high of 99! If they were cars, Oregon would be the Ferrari while Auburn would be the Corvette.
Now if you are like me, you would want some context to those numbers as the numbers themselves don't really seems to tell all of the story. So for that contexted I researched the stats for some of the other teams Oregon has played, Stanford, since they are another top 5 team, along with ASU and Cal, since both of those teams were either accused or convicted of faking injuries to slow down Oregon's offensive tempo, which is them admitting that they couldn't hang with the Ducks. Here are their numbers.
Stanford averaged 73 plays per game, and a TOP of 35 mins. That equals about 28.8 seconds of game clock time per play. Now no one is going to confused Stanford with a road runner, afterall they lineup with 3 tight ends and pound the ball right? Well Auburn is statsically closer to Stanford than it is to Oregon.
Cal averaged 65 plays per game, and a TOP of 30:41. which equals about 28.3 seconds per play. Again Auburn is much closer to Cal than Oregon, and Cal had to resort to the fake injuries to slow them down. Even worse, it appears that it was the coaches who planned during the week to do it.
ASU averaged 76 plays per game, and a TOP of 28:06, which is about 22.2 seconds per play. That is even faster than Auburn, but not quite up with the Ducks. Anyone who watched the game against ASU knows that the ASU defense was completely gassed in the 4th quarter of that game, the Ducks did whatever they wanted at that point. Meanwhile even the ASU offense was tired, committing turnover and turnover to help the Ducks finish them off.
I think it is pretty clear after some research that Auburn is going to have to game plan for the Ducks pace of play, they have seen nothing like it, and they can not count on their own pace of play during practice to prepare them for it. Speaking of practice, it is there that I believe the Ducks have really been innovative. The way Coach Kelly runs practice prepares his teams for a speed of play that no team can actually achieve in a game, so the Ducks offense and defense can go all out during the game while remaining fresh, because they are use to going even faster every other day.
**Disclaimer** While I believe the Ducks will win the National Championship game against Auburn, I don't believe it will be a blowout by either team, I believe both teams are very very good, just in different ways. The point of these fan posts is not to belittle Auburn, but to belittle the national and local pundits who are putting these talking points out there.