NEW ORLEANS – Monday night marked the second-ever meeting between the Auburn Tigers and the Oklahoma Sooners in the 83rd Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Auburn won the toss and elected to receive in an attempt to get a healthy Sean White and Kamryn Pettway in a rhythm early, and boy did it work.
Sean White was crisp on the drive, hitting both of his attempts, one to Eli Stove and one to Kyle Davies, but it was a fourth-and-1 sweep to Chandler Cox for his career touchdown that took the cake.
Daniel Carlson booted the PAT through the uprights and Auburn found themselves on top 7-0 after the 14-play drive that took 5:56 off the clock.
Oklahoma, the reigning Big 12 champs, received their first offensive possession immediately. They looked to get their offensive superstar Dede Westbrook involved but the Tigers were ready, holding him to just 8 total yards in the first drive.
After a single Sooner first down, they were forced to punt the ball back to the Tigers.
Auburn posted a good return that was quickly erased with a block in the back penalty, putting the Tigers in a hole that resulted in a punt back to the Sooners. Kevin Phillips boomed a 63-yard kick to give Oklahoma a first-and-10 at their own 29.
The Sooners picked up their second first down of the game on a 15-yard facemask penalty called on Montravius Adams, but they could do nothing with it and the ball went right back to the Tigers.
After Auburn was unable to move the ball, Oklahoma took the rock back and looked to have a little momentum on their side, but after a chop block with 33 seconds left in the first they found themselves in a second-and-25 to start the second.
Oklahoma started the second quarter with a second straight penalty, putting themselves in a third-and-35 situation.
Just as it looked as if Auburn had forced another Sooner punt, Carl Lawson was called for two offside penalties that kept the drive alive.
The second time Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield made the Tigers pay as he found a wide-open Joe Mixon down the sideline for a 32-yard strike for the first, carrying the ball into Auburn territory for the first time of the night.
The Sooners continued to move the ball in chunks, ending the drive with a Mayfield touchdown pass to Mark Andrews on a crossing route, knotting the game at seven with 11:24 left in the first half.
Auburn started their next drive from their own 25 and they showed the Sooners a hefty dose of Pettway. The bruising back carried the ball seven times on the drive for 21 yards.
Although they were unable to punch it into the end zone, Carlson, who has been near-perfect on the season, booted through a 49-yard field goal to give the lead back to Auburn 10-7.
Following the Auburn field goal, the high-powered Sooner offense went back to work. For the second straight drive, Oklahoma picked up big chunks of yardage, but none was bigger than a fourth-and-4 conversion from Mayfield to Westbrook for 26 yards.
The Sooners capped the nine-play, 75-yard drive on the next offensive play, with a 3-yard rush up the gut by Mixon to give Oklahoma their first lead of the game at 14-10 with 3:37 left in the first half.
Auburn’s fifth drive of the game started at their own 15 and with John Franklin III at the helm. Thanks to the legs of Pettway and the arm of Franklin, the Tigers marched down to the Oklahoma 26, but the drive bogged down and Auburn had to settle for a 39-yard field goal from Carlson to pull within a point, 14-13, with 41 seconds left in the first half.
Getting the ball first in the second half, Oklahoma quickly pushed their lead to eight as the Sooners marched 75 yards on six plays, finishing the drive with a 7-yard strike from Mayfield to Westbrook, putting Oklahoma on top 21-13.
Franklin III, who was in for an injured White, could not get anything going for the Auburn offense, forcing them to punt the ball back to the Sooners.
Oklahoma went right back to work on offense, finding success through the air and on the ground, moving the ball to the Auburn 25.
Here, the Tigers’ defense came up big and forced a 42-yard field goal attempt from Austin Seibert, who pushed the ball wide right to give the ball to the Tigers on their own 25 with 7:27 left in the third quarter.
Three straight rushes by Auburn only netted 9 yards, leading to an Auburn punt, relying on their defense for another stop.
Starting from their own 15, the Sooners almost immediately pushed the ball to the Auburn 41 thanks to a big 36-yard scamper over the right guard by Mixon.
After a miscue on first-and-10, Mayfield hit Mark Andrews for 22 yards to set up first-and-goal from the Tiger 4.
Mixon took a direct snap on the next play and dove into the end zone for the Sooner touchdown. Seibert hit the PAT to put Oklahoma on top 28-13 with 2:28 left on the third-quarter clock.
Once again, the Tigers went three-and-out, giving the ball back to Oklahoma. The Sooners picked up a quick first down to start the drive. Another rush picked up 3 yards before the third ended, setting up second-and-7 to start the fourth.
In the fourth Oklahoma picked up right where they left off, picking up huge yardage and heading deep into Tiger territory.
Samaje Perine finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown on a direct snap from the pistol to push the score to 35-13.
Auburn picked up a late touchdown on a 1-yard Jeremy Johnson jump pass to Jalen Harris to make the score 35-19, but it was not enough as Oklahoma defeated Auburn to become the 83rd Allstate Sugar Bowl champions.
— Auburn Football (@FootballAU) January 3, 2017