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Question of the day: Which college football team is better, Auburn or Oregon? [Updated]

November 15, 2010 |  8:47 am

Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant

Oregon is the better football team because the Ducks are more of a team.

If you took away LaMichael James, arguably Oregon's best player, there's a good chance the Ducks would be pretty good. They would certainly hold their own in the Pac-10 and outside the conference.

You may think offense when you think about the Ducks, but they're ranked 20th in the country in total defense. And you know what they say about defense.

If you took Cam Newton, arguably the nation's best player, off the Auburn roster, the Tigers would not be able to hold their own, and certainly not in the SEC.

Case in point: Did you see the game Saturday against Georgia? Great game. If Newton doesn't throw for two touchdowns and run for two, if he doesn't throw for 148 yards and rush for 151, does Auburn win the game? As a team, the Tigers struggled against the five-win Bulldogs and would have lost had they not had the most dynamic player in college football today.

When it comes to Auburn, that can be said for a lot of its games.

[Updated at 10:01 a.m.:

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

It might be the most exciting and high-scoring game in BCS title-game history.

Auburn would have the best two players on the field in quarterback Cam Newton and defensive lineman Nick Fairley, but Oregon is the more balanced team.

Until the Cal game, Oregon's scariest moments came when the Ducks trailed Tennessee, Stanford and USC early in the second half. Oregon ended up blowing all three teams off the field.

Oregon might score 60 on Auburn's defense, but Auburn might push 50 on Oregon. A turnover here or there and we could be looking at 55-55 headed into overtime.

Auburn is by far the worst defensive team of the four remaining unbeaten teams, ranked 51st this week in the NCAA stats. The Tigers have won games by giving up 43, 31 and 34 points this year. But they are on one of those magical rides you see every now and then. Auburn should have lost to Clemson's Tigers, and they beat Mississippi State and Kentucky by only three.

Auburn reminds me of the Ohio State team in 2002 that won the national title by pulling out game after game on its way to the national title. Miami was the superior team that year, but Ohio State pulled off the huge upset in the Fiesta Bowl.

And this year's national title is back in ... Arizona.]

[Updated at 12:28 a.m.:

Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune

The question isn't who would win but rather who has the more impressive résumé. And after 10 and 11 games of empirical data, respectively, you're not a quack-head if you calculate Oregon to be a slightly but nonetheless measurably better club.

Both are 4-0 against teams in the Sagarin ratings' top 30. Oregon's schedule has been slightly more taxing, per Sagarin, but Auburn has three wins against ranked teams to Oregon's two.

The Pac-10 and SEC are 1-2 in conference strength. Oregon is ranked in the national top 20 in 11 major categories, while Auburn is top 20 in six. Especially given the defensive disparity, the Ducks trump the Tigers. But they both can earn a chance to opinion out of it.]