Oklahoma is set to take on the Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, so here are some storylines and predictions for the Sooners ahead of the game.
Industrial Earplugs Required For Joe Mixon And Bob Stoops
The Sugar Bowl will be Mixon’s first outing since the release of a video showing him punching a female Oklahoma student in the face. It was an alarming visual of a case that had been adjudicated two years ago. Mixon will get an incessant earful from the creative Auburn fans and the Superdome crowd at large. But so too will Stoops who’s being roundly criticized for allowing Mixon to be a part of the program the past three years. Bank on a viscerally negative reaction every time No. 25 has the ball in his hands.
Trend Remains Strong for Sooner Secondary
Sure, on paper pass defense looks like a glaring weakness for Oklahoma—ranked No. 9 in the 10-team Big 12 after yielding 28 touchdown passes. But this is a very different unit than the one that was strafed through the air in September. In fact, over the last five games opposing quarterbacks completed just 49% of their throws. OU will remain on that trajectory against QB Sean White and an Auburn passing game that just doesn’t stretch the field. All-star CB Jordan Thomas will lock down WR Tony Stevens, allowing safeties Ahmad Thomas and Steven Parker to inch up to stop the Tiger backs.
Sooner O-line, Tiger D-Line Stage 60-Minute War
One of the most compelling matchups of this year’s Sugar Bowl will occur in the trenches when Oklahoma has the ball. The Sooners want to use Samaje Perine as a battering ram between the tackles, running him behind massive LT Orlando Brown and a blocking unit that got better and better as the season unfolded. However, Perine will routinely hit a wall in the form of DT Montravius Adams, DE Carl Lawson and an Auburn D that surrendered just five rushing touchdowns this season. Perine will run for 100 yards, but it’ll require more than 30 touches.
Big 12 Defenses Are So Much More Fun Than SEC Defenses
This is a huge game for Oklahoma, which wants to prove that its ascent this fall wasn’t all about playing in the weakest Power Five conference. Remember, the Sooners were 1-2 in non-conference, losing in September by double-digits to Houston and Ohio State. And while they no doubt boast elite offensive weapons, like QB Baker Mayfield, WR Dede Westbrook and Perine and Mixon out of the backfield, they’ll get punched in the mouth for much of the night by a physical Auburn D that’s distinctly tougher and better prepared than anything they saw in the Big 12.
Baker Mayfield Channels Drew Brees, Leads Oklahoma to Sugar Bowl Win
Mayfield won’t post his usual output against a very good Auburn defense. He will, though, deliver in the clutch, doing a Brees impersonation in Brees’ home stadium. The Sooners are at their offensive best when the ground game is setting up the pass, particularly on play-action strikes. But with running lanes a little more congested than usual, Mayfield will improvise with his feet, his arm and his boundless on-field energy. He’ll be the difference in a competitive, hard-fought game, hitting TE Mark Andrews, not Westbrook, with the game-winner in the final quarter.