No. 14 Auburn Tigers (8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)
College Football Allstate Sugar Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Monday January 2nd, 2017. 8:30PM (EST)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AUB +3.5/OKLA -3.5
Over/Under Total: 62.5
The Big 12 Champions and 7th ranked Oklahoma Sooners will meet the no. 14 Auburn Tigers inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2nd for an enticing Allstate Sugar Bowl battle. The Sooners will be riding a wave of momentum into New Orleans as winners of 9 straight games following a disappointing 1-2 start earlier this year. Despite the slow start, Oklahoma has become one of the hottest teams in the country during the 2nd half of the season and this will be their 2nd Sugar Bowl appearance in the last 4 years. However, Oklahoma will lineup against a worthy opponent in Auburn who has also played really well down the stretch. As of now, the Sooners will be just 3.5 point favorites over the Tigers when the two teams collide in the Superdome.
Auburn has experienced an up and down season throughout the 2016 campaign. The Tigers got off to a bad 1-2 start which had many calling for Gus Malzahnís head. Then the offense caught fire and rattled off 6 wins that included victories over the likes of LSU and an obliteration of a 17th ranked Arkansas team by a score of 56-3. The midseason winning streak seemingly calmed the doubt on the Malzahn regime but then the team lost 2 of their last 3 games which again left a sour taste in the midst of fans that expected to potentially contend for a title. While those expectations never came to fruition, Auburn could still put a pretty positive stamp on this yearís disappointments if they could corral a Sugar Bowl trophy.
To me, this matchup is pretty intriguing from an expectation standpoint. Oklahomaís offense is completely loaded with talent at every level. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been outstanding completing 71% passing for 3,669 yards with 38 scores and 8 picks. Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine have been outstanding on the ground combining for 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Sooners also have one of the most purely talented receivers in the FBS in Dede Westbrook who has 74 catches totaling 1,465 yards with 16 touchdowns this season. Combined this Oklahoma offense is about as stacked as they come and they have produced as expected averaging 44.6 points per game this season. Since the 3rd week of the season, Oklahoma has scored a minimum of 34 points and eclipsed 50 points on 4 different occasions.
Needless to say Oklahoma is going to move the football and they are going to score points even against a very underappreciated Auburn defense. The question in this game boils down to the Oklahoma defense and their ability to make stops. I have said it a couple times this year but it appears that the Big 12 just took the year off on the defensive side of the football and that is no different with the Sooners considering they have allowed almost 30 points on average.
If that trend continues, it is really going to be difficult for Oklahoma to win this game despite their weapons on offense. The Tigers have a dynamic rushing attack that can keep the ball away from this Oklahoma offense. The Tigers have averaged 278 yards per game on the ground which officially ranks 6th in the FBS. Running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson have been excellent in the Auburn backfield. Both tailbacks have average more than 5 yards per carry and are approaching 200 carries each. Together, the two rushers have combined for nearly 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. More important Malzahnís option and mis-direction schemes are surely going to add to Oklahomaís defensive struggles as they have played very poorly against the run. If quarterback Sean White can hit a few passes, it will just be further help matters but Auburn may not need to throw the ball very often.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am going with the underdog in this game. I like Auburnís running style against this Oklahoma defense and I believe the Tigers are good enough to limit the big play ability that Oklahoma consistently relies on. Take Auburn +3.5
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