Mock College Football Playoff Semi-Final: #2 Auburn vs. #3 TCU
As with the Oregon-Boise matchup, here we have another pairing of an athletic power-conference team against a small conference upstart. And here, once again, we have a situation where the power conference team would likely only be a small favorite, if that, on the Vegas board. In other words, this matchup is much more even than one might assume. Auburn’s success has been driven by the emergence of quarterback Cam Newton as the undisputed best player in the country.
While this Auburn team is certainly talented, the fact is that Newton’s exploits have covered up a few significant blemishes, most notably on defense. Newton is that good. He is, essentially, unstoppable, and he’s been able to make big plays that tilt the scales when the game is on the line. If ever there was a team that would have a chance to at least contain the Heisman favorite, however, it’s TCU. Gary Patterson’s defense is quite likely the best in the country, ranked as they are #1 in pass defense, #7 in pass defense, #1 in total defense and #1 in scoring defense. Granted, that’s against a second tier schedule, but rest assured, the Horned Frogs can hang with anyone in the nation when it comes to defense.
On the flipside, Auburn is alarmingly vulnerable on defense, particularly through the air, where they rank #98 in the nation against the pass. And veteran TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is more than capable of cashing in against the Tigers. Conventional wisdom holds that a team with as questionable a defense as Auburn should have a hard time winning a national championship. Then again, conventional wisdom doesn’t account for Cam Newton. Newtown is having a magical year and it’s entirely possible he could make the difference here once again. Either way, it would sure be fun to find out.
The Pick: Auburn by a nose.