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And, yes, the Tigers also like to pick up the pace. They don’t quite go as fast as Oregon, but they don’t dilly-dally between plays, either.

“We think pace is a great advantage in college,” he said. “We try to mentally and physically wear down a defense.”

Aliotti, in his third stint and 20th season as an assistant with the Ducks, has had to adjust what he considers a successful game for his defense because of the way Oregon’s offense plays.

“It’s difficult sometimes to feel really good about the way you play defensively when you play a lot of plays,” he said. “And there’s two ways to look at it. If you stop them in three downs, you won’t play a lot of plays. But we play very fast on offense therefore that puts us on the field quite a bit.”

In many ways, Auburn-Oregon is a matchup that typifies an era in which offenses have evolved far more quickly in college football than defenses. With various incarnations of the spread and a plethora of dual-threat quarterbacks _ from Vince Young to Pat White to Tim Tebow and now to Newton and Thomas _ it’s never been tougher to play defense.

“I think teams are doing a good job of doing little bits and pieces of a lot of different packages,” said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, who was a defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and a defensive assistant in the NFL before taking over the Scarlet Knights.

“Back when option football was first big, the option quarterback was a slight guy, maybe 185, 190 pounds. Now you’re talking about these 235-pound monsters who can throw and run. You look at those quarterbacks and what they’re doing with those quarterbacks, it’s a whole different deal.”

And no teams give defenses more to deal with than Auburn and Oregon.