Oklahoma (10-2) vs Auburn (8-4)
The best of the Big 12 gets a crack at the second (or third) best SEC team in the Sugar Bowl yet again. Oklahoma’s Bowl record under Bob Stoops has involved winning as underdogs and losing as favorites. Gus Malzahn, meanwhile, has the worst Bowl record of any Auburn Head Coach in the modern football era.
When Oklahoma Has The Ball: Baker Mayfield throwing to Dede Westbrook with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon is typically enough to give any defensive coordinator nightmares. The Sooners are good at moving the ball and have the weapons to do it. Auburn, however, has a veteran defensive unit that is experienced at playing talented offensive teams. Only 1 team (Alabama) scored more than 30 points against Auburn this year. Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, Josh Holsey, and Rudy Ford are all seniors that will get drafted in April, and each have been long time starters for Auburn.
When Auburn Has The Ball: When Auburn hit their stride it didn’t seem like there were many, if any, teams capable of stopping them. Unfortunately injuries to quarterback Sean White and tailbacks Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway were enough to derail the Tigers, who didn’t have the depth to overcome those injuries. Auburn’s veteran offensive line should be prepared for Oklahoma’s underperforming front seven, although Jordan Evans is a solid linebacker for the Sooners.
Analysis: Oklahoma played 2 defenses in the top 50 nationally and scored 23 and 24 against them. Auburn, meanwhile has played 5 offenses in the top 50 and given up an average of 24 points per game. Conversely, Auburn tends to run all over bad defensive teams. Auburn also has the edge in the kicking game, by far, and in turnover margin.
Prediction: Auburn 38 - Oklahoma 27