With less than 36 hours until kickoff in Dallas, both Oregon and LSU are completing their final preparations for game day. And, depending on any bars LSU players may visit or cars Oregon players may operate, we know what to expect come tomorrow evening. And since, apparently, none of you are satisfied with our "it's up to who wants it more" analysis, it's time to present to you the top 5 reasons why Oregon will beat LSU. But, to avoid any curses, or accusations of homerism, I also present the top 5 reasons why Oregon will lose to LSU.
Reason #1 why Oregon will beat LSU: Darron Thomas 363 days ago, Darron Thomas threw an interception on his first drive as an Oregon starting QB. He shook it off, and six of his next seven possessions led to scores. Last year against Stanford, Thomas threw an interception that led to a 21-3 Cardinal lead. He shook that off too, leading the Ducks to 49 points in the final three quarters. On January 10th, in a game where Oregon's rushing attack had been completely silenced, Darron Thomas put the team on his back in the biggest stage, and willed the Ducks to the brink of a national championship. Tomorrow, Darron Thomas will take the field with not only his talent, but with a 12-1 season of experience under his belt.
Reason #1 why Oregon will lose to LSU: The Tigers have had time to prepare Oregon's record in games under Chip Kelly, where the opponent has had more than two weeks to prepare, is 1-3. And LSU has more in common with Boise State, Ohio State, and Auburn than it does with New Mexico, and I'm not just talking about NCAA rules violations. When teams have talent, and time to get reps reading and attacking the zone read, Chip Kelly's offense is vulnerable.
Reason #2 why Oregon will beat LSU: The Ducks have the more balanced offense. Even with the questions at wide receiver, Oregon still has a top-10 quarterback, and the Pac-12's best pass-catching tight end to go along with the best group of running backs in the country. LSU's offense comes with more questions, including a backup quarterback with a history of inconsistency, and wide receivers that are more untested than Oregon's. The Tigers may have the edge on the offensive line, but the Duck have too many weapons to be stopped completely.
Reason #2 why Oregon will lose to LSU: Their big-ass offensive line. The LSU offensive line averages 310 pounds per person, and all five starters have at least one start on their resume. This is a huge and experienced unit, and Oregon's front seven will have a tough time both stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. If the Ducks can't get to Jarrett Lee early, he'll be able to get comfortable and get in a rhythm, opening up the LSU offense and propelling them to a big win.
Reason #3 why Oregon will beat LSU: Les Miles is bat-shit crazy. If Chip Kelly is a riverboat gambler, then Les Miles is the guy goes to the roulette wheel and bets his life savings on red. Or, even better, a Top Gun analogy! Chip Kelly is Iceman. His risks are calculated, and his aggression comes with careful planning. Les Miles flies by the seat of his pants, and has needed a little bit of luck in his career to succeed. Do Maverick Miles' decisions, for the most part, work? Yes. Could the two of them be wingmen for the most dangerous college football experience the world has ever seen. Probably. But you do remember who got that Top Gun trophy, don't you?
Sidenote: completing the analogy, Steve Kragthorpe is Slider, Nick Alliotti is Merlin, and Scott Mothafuckin' Frost is most definitely Sundown.
Reason #3 why Oregon will lose to LSU: Les Miles is bat-shit crazy...and kind of a genius. I don't know how he does it, but the Mad Hatter's crazy schemes always seem to work. He's like the opposite of a Scooby-Doo villain. He gets a bad rap for poor clock management, but you don't compile a 62-17 record in the SEC without being a savvy in-game coach. He may catch flack for almost fucking up. But he rarely fucks up.
Reason #4 why Oregon will beat LSU: They have more to prove. Ah, the first cousin of WhoWantsItMore, TheyHaveMoreToProve. But anytime a Pac-12 team invades SEC country, there is something to prove. Namely, that the gap between the SEC and the rest of college football is not as big as those folksy fans down south believe. It's the same reason why Boise State will beat Georgia. Well that reason and the fact that Chris Peterson ventured down into the depths of Hell this offseason and sold Jared Zabransky into an eternity of slavery in exchange for another BCS season. Great deal by Coach Pete BTW, Zabransky was already going to Hell for being a ginger. The Devil got hosed.
Reason #4 why Oregon will lose to LSU: It's the first game of the year. The first game of the year is never crisp. Neither team will play their best game of the season. And LSU is the team better-built to win a game filled with mistakes. Oregon's offense is one that is based on rhythm, and setting the defense up for a big play. If they can't get those setup plays established, and can't sustain a no-huddle drive that gets the defense breathing hard, they become just another football team. They have certainly shown they can grind out games, with Civil War '09 and Cal '10 being the prime examples. But this LSU team is bigger and more talented than both Cal and Oregon State. If it becomes a power football game, the Tigers have the advantage.
Reason #5 why Oregon will beat LSU: Our offense is better. Our defense replaces five starters on the front seven. Their defense replaces three. Both defenses are equal parts talent and experience. The comparison on offense is not nearly as even, with Oregon boasting a far superior backfield, and a more dynamic offensive gameplan. And this disparity will ultimately be the difference in the game.
Reason #5 why Oregon will lose to LSU: Oregon isn't an elite program...yet. Blasphemy, right? Two straight BCS bowls, a NC game appearance. We've got to be considered an elite program by now.
On a level of pure talent and measurables, LSU's team is stacked with blue-chip recruits. Oregon has had recruiting success the last couple years, but the upperclassmen on this team were recruited when the Ducks were still merely a team that hadn't broken through. Of course, talent does not make a football team. But LSU is the established power in this matchup: their fans travel better, they have more history on this stage, and the goofy program from up north just isn't ready to hang with the big boys yet.