Auburn vs Oklahoma
When: 8:30 PM ET, Monday, January 2, 2017
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL STORYLINES
1. Auburn and Oklahoma each began the season by losing two of their first three games, but regrouped in a big way and cap off the season by meeting in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2. Auburn used a six-game winning streak in the middle of the season to get on track and should have the services of some key players who battled late-season injuries. The Sooners enter the Superdome riding a nine-game winning streak and look to topple their third consecutive ranked opponent following lopsided wins against West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
2. Auburn quarterback Sean White missed the last two games with a shoulder injury after playing through pain the previous two games, but coach Gus Malzahn told reporters Dec. 14 that White “looks ready to go, didn’t miss a beat” as Auburn began its bowl preparations. Kamryn Pettway, the Tigers’ 6-foot, 240-pound sophomore running back, missed two games late in the season with a quad injury and didn’t record a carry or reception in two others, but still has 1,123 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season. He returned for the regular-season finale against top-ranked Alabama and was held to 17 yards on 12 carries in the 30-12 loss, but three weeks to heal and three more weeks of practice should have Pettway back in peak form.
3. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting after throwing for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns with eight interceptions, and has a talented go-to receiver in Dede Westbrook, the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year who enters the game with 74 catches for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Sooners also have a pair of running backs who can pile up yardage, but it might be interesting how they use Joe Mixon (1,183 yards, nine touchdowns), who gained national attention this week after the release of a 2014 video that showed him punch a female Oklahoma student, an incident which led to a misdemeanor assault charge. Samaje Perine, who missed three conference games with a leg injury, combined for 499 rushing yards in the last three games, putting him within 26 yards of going over 1,000 yards for a third straight season.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Oklahoma -3
ABOUT AUBURN (8-4, 5-3, SEC): Kerryon Johnson has been a fantastic fill-in and change-of-pace running back for the Tigers, piling up 862 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns during the season. Auburn isn’t as talented at the receiver positions, but the Tigers do have plenty of options as eight different players caught from 10 to 29 passes this season. Defensively, they seem to get stronger as games go on, allowing only 35 points in the fourth quarter this season.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (10-2, 9-0 Big 12): Linebacker Jordan Evans and cornerback Jordan Thomas were selected to the all-Big 12 first team. Evans is the leader of the unit and posted four interceptions on the season, returning two for touchdowns, and Thomas broke up a conference-leading 16 passes on the season. Another defender Auburn needs to track is defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who finished third in the conference with nine sacks, though he produced only three in the last six games.