Big 12 champ Oklahoma, SEC’s Auburn meet in Sugar Bowl
The Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners will meet the Southeastern Conference's Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.
The No. 7 Sooners (10-2, 9-0 Big 12, No. 7 College Football Playoff) finished off a perfect run through conference play on Saturday with a 38-20 victory over Oklahoma State. Oklahoma lost two of three to start the season, but ended the season on a nine-game winning streak.
No. 17 Auburn (8-4, 5-3 SEC, No. 14 CFP) emerged from a jumbled pile of candidates to be the second-highest ranked team in the SEC in the final CFP poll behind top-ranked Alabama.
It's just the second time Oklahoma and Auburn have met on the football field. The Sooners beat the Tigers 40-22 in the 1972 Sugar Bowl.
Some of Oklahoma's players have been to the Sugar Bowl before: The Sooners beat Alabama 45-31 three years ago in New Orleans.
The Sooners are led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has thrown for 3,669 yards, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Running back Joe Mixon has run for 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns while top receiver Dede Westbrook has 1,465 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns.
Auburn is led by a running game that features Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. The two have both have good moments this season and combined for nearly 2,000 yards rushing, but both have also battled injuries this season.
Here are some things to watch in this year's Sugar Bowl:
SURGING SOONERS: Oklahoma had a rough start to the season, losing games against Houston and Ohio State during September. But the Sooners regrouped quickly thanks to a stellar offense that scored 34 points or more in all nine of its Big 12 games.
SAGGING TIGERS: Auburn has had an up-and-down season. The Tigers lost two of three early, but then rallied with a six-game winning streak to jump back into contention in the SEC's Western Division. Auburn couldn't capitalize on the momentum, losing to Georgia and Alabama during the final three weeks of the regular season.
NEEDING WHITE: Auburn quarterback Sean White's health (shoulder) was a concern during the final month of the regular season and the Tigers' offense struggled whenever backups Jeremy Johnson or John Franklin III played. White didn't play against Alabama in the Iron Bowl but the Tigers hope he'll be fully healthy for the Sugar Bowl.
OKLAHOMA'S DEFENSE: The Sooners' offense gets most of the press, and rightfully so, but the defense has been pretty good over the last half of the season. Oklahoma held six of its last seven opponents under 28 points.