There’s a reason you’re not hearing much about defence in tonight’s National Championship Game: most don’t think there will be any.Between Cam Newton, LaMichael James, and two offenses that average more than 40 points per game (and surpassed 50 points in half of them), Auburn and Oregon figure to light up the scoreboards in Glendale.
Even Vegas is swept up in the offensive hysteria, as oddsmakers set the over/under at 74 points.
At first glance that total seems astronomical — just 3 Bowl Games this year have surpassed 74 points. But “experts” are still taking the over.
Before we dissect this year’s game, let’s take a look at recent history:
As you can see, high scoring offenses are no strangers to National Championship games. In fact, six of the 14 teams to compete for a championship since 2003 averaged at least 40 points per game. But only once, in 2004 when USC trounced Oklahoma, did the teams overshoot their combined season average.
And only in USC’s two games did the teams score more than 74 points. The average game undershot its participants’ combined scoring average by 27 per cent. If that happens here, Oregon and Auburn will combine for 67 points and rest safely under the total.
So history certainly favours the under. Here’s why you should, too.
defence is often overlooked in championship games because most of the household names play on the offensive side of the ball. But if the defenses weren’t competent, the teams probably would not be undefeated and playing for the championship in the first place. LaMichael James might not find holes so easily against the 6th best rushing defence among major conference teams. And Cam Newton better be careful when he drops back, Oregon intercepts more passes than all but three teams in the nation.
Combine those underrated defenses with the long layoff between games – it’s been 37 days since either team last played – and the recipe for a lower-scoring game is in place. It’s also worth keeping in mind that many coaches get conservative in big games, wary of having critical decisions questioned on a national stage.
Finally, if you believe the championship game will be close – which, judging by the 1.5 point spread most probably do – then a lower scoring game is much more likely. In its five games decided by 7 points or less, Auburn scored more than 27 points just once. Meanwhile, Oregon’s lone close game was a 15-13 win over California.
Obviously, anything can happen. If betting was purely based on historical trends, sharps would have bet Vegas broke shortly after the invention of computers. But there are a ton of reasons to like the under here, and that’s where our money is.
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