WHO: No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. No. 14 Auburn (8-4)
WHAT: The 82nd Allstate Sugar Bowl
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
THE SKINNY: Oklahoma enters as the favorites, but there are reasons to believe Auburn has a puncher’s chance here. This isn’t the Patriots against the Browns here.
Kevin Steele‘s defense is one of the most improved units in the country, ranking 16th nationally in yards per play allowed and in pass efficiency defense. Sean White and Kamryn Pettway are finally healthy, and for a stretch the Tigers boasted one of the most devastating offenses in the country, averaging 372 rushing yards per game and 6.44 yards per carry in the month of October.
That said, this should be an Oklahoma victory. If the Big 12 is to garner any semblance of respect after an awful 2016 and get the ball rolling toward what will hopefully be a better 2017, it needs to be an Oklahoma victory. And likely a big one.
Baker Mayfield is on track to put together the most efficient season in FBS history, hitting 71.2 percent of his throws for an absurd 11.1 yards per attempt with 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Dede Westbrook is the best receiver in college football, with 1,465 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Samaje Perine and the highly controversial Joe Mixon are the game’s best 1-2 combination in the game. OU leads all Power 5 teams with 7.55 yards per play and trail only Louisville with 44.7 points per game.
Motivation shouldn’t be an issue here, with OU the lone Power 5 champion to not reach the College Football Playoff, and the fact Bob Stoops always gets his teams up to play the SEC. It should, it needs to, show on the field tonight.
THE PICK: Oklahoma 42, Auburn 27