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Oregon vs. Alabama: Can Ducks swim against the Tide?

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets three per half) each Friday during the season to answer questions on college football. This week's topics include a possible BCS championship matchup, USC's struggling offense and Notre Dame's resurgence.

October 20, 2012|Chris Dufresne
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Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: Get with the program. You really think Alabama's offense can go round for round with the Ducks' offense?

Darren Spicer

Answer: You may have not heard about my recent religious conversion to SEC-anity. I actually cut myself shaving today and bled Crimson.

Look, I was thoroughly impressed with Oregon's demolition of Arizona State on Thursday night. The Ducks could have scored 100 on the Sun Devils.

But I am hardly ready to drop Alabama from No. 1.

Given that the Southeastern Conference is 8-1 in Bowl Championship Series title games, I would still pick Alabama over Oregon if the schools met this year — and boy wouldn't that be better to watch than Alabama-Louisiana State.

Alabama would not try to go "round for round" with the Ducks' offense. That would be dumb and Coach Nick Saban is no dummy. Rather, picture the Crimson Tide orchestrating 10-play, 11-minute scoring drives.

The best way to beat Oregon is to keep its offense off the field.

Alabama's defense is certainly good enough to keep any game in the 20s.

Look at Auburn two years ago. The Tigers slowed Oregon down just enough to get out of Arizona with a 22-19 victory in the national title game.

Q: Curious where you see Alabama exploiting Oregon?


A: I was thinking in South Florida, site of this year's national title game.

Perhaps you meant "how" do I see Alabama exploiting Oregon?

Oregon's biggest enemy in the postseason is time. The Ducks don't like to wait around for anything. They are the most impatient offense in college football and I think the long layoff between the end of the season and the bowls gives good coaches like Saban time to game plan.

Time certainly helped Ohio State prepare for Oregon in the Rose Bowl and Auburn to prepare in the BCS title game.

Oregon won a shootout against Wisconsin in last year's Rose Bowl but Wisconsin's defense in no way compares to Alabama's.

Honestly, I might give Oregon the edge in any BCS title game played Dec. 15, with the odds decreasing steadily after Jan. 1.

Championship games tend to slow down. The timeouts seem longer. The defense gets more time to rest.

Two years ago, Oregon could never get its tempo going against Auburn. It seemed every time the Ducks got warmed up there was a TV timeout.

Q: When was the last time 'Bama played versus a good hurry-up offense? 2009 vs. Utah? Saban's scared.


A: Alabama fans blame that loss on "indifference" after losing the SEC title game to Florida. The Crimson Tide wasn't motivated to play Utah even though it was the Sugar Bowl and the game was on national television.

I say Alabama simply got played off its feet by the Mountain West that day and it helped motivate the Crimson Tide to win the national title in 2009.

I also guarantee you this: Nick Saban would rather face LSU again in the BCS title game than face Oregon.

Saban knows what he's getting in LSU. It would be a defensive game probably won by a field goal.

Saban would not be "scared" of Oregon — but he might be nervous.

Q: Will Oregon get their Willie Lyles postseason ban before the end of the season?


A: I predict there will be some NCAA action against Oregon before the end of the year but it won't affect this season's team.

Oregon would have time to respond to any possible NCAA accusations in the Willie Lyles case.

Example: Central Florida last summer was hit with a one-year bowl ban by the NCAA. Central Florida is bowl eligible this season, however, because the school is appealing the ruling.

Q: Wondering what is going on with USC Coach Lane Kiffin? Geesh, you have two of what have been called the best wide receivers in the nation and you run the ball on third and 13?

Joan Ho `ola'l Kahalueuahi

A: USC's offense has been one of this season's biggest disappointments. I never fathomed the Trojans entering the Colorado game ranked No. 57 nationally in offense.

What must have USC coaches and players thought watching Oregon's offense simply destroy Arizona State on Thursday night?

Kiffin obviously does not have enough confidence in his offensive line, specifically left tackle, to let Matt Barkley sit in the pocket and throw down the field.

The loss of Matt Kalil at left tackle was bigger than anyone imagined, and having center Khaled Holmes banged up has affected continuity.

Barkley threw 10 touchdown passes the first two weeks against Hawaii and Syracuse — he's thrown only six in four games since.

Here's a prediction, though: The offense will look great against Colorado. Barkley might throw for six touchdowns.

Big deal ... Charles Barkley could throw for three touchdowns against the Buffaloes.

We really won't know about Barkley until he steps up in a big game the way he did last year at Oregon.

Oregon comes to L.A. on Nov. 3.

Q: Am I missing something? The Notre Dame I've seen play a few times this year is terrible. They beat Big Ten teams. Wow!

Tom S.


A: You must have seen them against Purdue.

Q: Has UCLA been anywhere in the top 10 since 1998?


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