PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Auburn isn't going to lay down. That much is official as the Tigers try to deal with the most explosive offense in the country.
Oregon averages 49.33 points per game according to the NCAA, No. 1 nationally. More to the point, Oregon scores those points quickly. The Ducks are 103rd in time of possession (27:59 per game). That figures out to an average of 1.76 points per minute of possession. Only 21 of 91 scoring drives this season lasted more than 2:43.
That leaves a lot of defensive tongues dragging. Chip Kelly's offense is so effective that basketball types have become interested with its pace. Kelly talks regularly with Oregon women's coach Paul Westhead (The Guru of Go). Representatives from the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers visited Kelly and the Ducks in the offseason.
There's the rank-and-file no-huddle offense and then there is Oregon's O which gets plays off in about 21 or 22 seconds on average. The idea is keep offensive rhythm but also tire out the defense. As you can tell by the numbers, it has worked. Things got so ridiculous that opponents began testing the boundaries of the rules. Cal assistant Tosh Lupoi was suspended for instructing a player to fake an injury in the Oregon game.
"We're not going to do that," Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Thursday at the BCS championship game press conferences. "We're going to line up and play."
There is an NCAA rule that prohibits such tactics.
"Most likely the officials will warn the team, 'Get up, get up or you'll be penalized,' " before a penalty according to Dave Parry, the national coordinator of officials.
Opponents going European soccer on the Ducks -- aka diving -- started in September during a game at Arizona State.
"It's kind of like a World Cup game here with the crowd and these injuries," Kelly said at the time.
The practice became so common that Oregon fans began booing each time there was an opponent injury -- legitimate or not.
"The fake injuries, the cramps, that's stuff that sometimes can really kill our drives and sometimes really motivates us," Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl said. "We put our foot on the pedal even more ... It's becoming a strategy for other teams. If that's the route they want to take, that's part of the game. It shows a lot of mental weakness."
Oregon comes into the game fourth nationally averaging 79.25 plays per game. The top three are all from the Big 12 -- Oklahoma (86.5), Texas Tech (81) and Texas A&M (80.75).
"Hopefully my wind can hold up," said Auburn All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley. "That's one thing we're not going to do ... fake an injury to slow them down."
Auburn's best chance is to stop Oregon on first down. That's when the Ducks offense faces the same challenge as a conventional unit, converting second- and third-down and long. Cal's lollygagging worked but so did the fact that it had effective back seven that allowed it to cover receivers one-and-one and devote the rest of the defense to the run. The Bears held Oregon to season lows in points (15) and points (317) in the Ducks' 15-13 victory.