First off, if you haven't seen it... Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Oregon Ducks Power Ballad (1/5/11) - Video - NBC.com Monday, for the first time ever, my Ducks will play for the big prize in college football. As a senior, who only transferred last year, this will be the only football season I have as a student with the team I have loved since the 1994 Rose Bowl season. That is, unless I attend Law School at Oregon, but that's up in the air. There is a lot of miss information out there by ESPN which attempts to hype this game but, in my objective opinion as a social science major who looks at statistics all day, Oregon has to be the favorite in this match up... all homerisms aside. Why? Follow the numbers... Offense Scoring: Oregon 49.3 (1st); Auburn 42.7 (4th) Yards Per Game: Oregon 537.5 (1st); Auburn 497.7 (7th) Rushing: Oregon 305+ (4th), Auburn 287+ (5th) Passing: Oregon 232+ (49th), Auburn 210+ (67th) As you can see, even though Oregon has a slight statistical advantage, these two teams are very evenly matched on offense. Oregon appears to be the better offensive team but: Auburn has the best player in college football and playing in the SEC has surely suppressed Auburn's numbers. The offenses, short of coming out flat, will not determine this game. This game will have to be won on defense or special teams. This historically has favored SEC teams as the previous title winners all had top five defenses. The Pac-10 is considered to be the best offensive conference in the country, but when the conversation turns to defense it's the SEC, and everybody else. This is what ESPN has been selling the game on, but the numbers tell a different story... Defense Total Defense: Oregon 331+ (25th), Auburn 362 (54th) Rushing Defense: Auburn 111+ (10th), Oregon 117+ (15th) Passing Defense: Oregon 214 (52nd); Auburn 250+ (106th) Passes Defended (batted away): Oregon 8.17/G (1st); Auburn 3.46 (84th) Turnover Margin: Oregon 1.08 (6th); Auburn 0.38 (32nd) Red Zone Defense: Oregon 64% (5th); Auburn 87% (95th) The numbers here are not so close. Even though Oregon plays in a conference with Matt Barkley, Andrew Luck, and Nick Foles Oregon manages to clearly pull away from Auburn when then talk turns to defense. Teams have struggled to run it up the middle against the Tigers, a tribute to the world beater that is Nick Fairly, but Oregon doesn't run through teams so much as it runs around them. Key to the Game: Both offenses are amazing and run fast paced, spread-option attacks. Both defenses will be playing Cover-1 or "Man-Free" Cover-0 all night (for non football people that means that people who usually defense the pass instead defend the run leaving pass-defenders in one on one situations). This game will come down to which defense can do this better for an entire football game. This makes Auburn's 105th ranked pass defense especially telling... Conclusion: Games ARE NOT played on paper. The Giants probably only had a 15% chance to beat New England in the Super Bowl, but if the dice come up with your number on the big night it's a win all the same. This match up is not like that one, this game could go either way. But, the law of averages says that the more you increase exposure the more likely you are to get an average looking output. When you consider that both teams have very fast offenses it must be accepted that the exposure to either defense is huge. The likelihood that the game plays out how the numbers suggest is therefore increased. If both teams show up to play: Advantage Oregon... Oregon: 46 Auburn: 38 What's your take?