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Bowl Picks: 2017 Sugar Bowl

[lead align=”default”]The last of the major bowl games preceding the national championship comes by way of the 2017 Sugar Bowl.[/lead]

When this game is over, only the Clemson-Alabama rematch remains. It’s sad to see the ending of another season, but finally, we’ll know who wins it all. Before we get there, however, the Oklahoma Sooners and Auburn Tigers meet in the Sugar Bowl.

Oklahoma started off the year poorly, losing to Houston and Ohio State in their first three games. They answered that by running the table in the Big 12 behind Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook. Their conference championship earned them a spot in this contest. Bob Stoops has won this game with the Sooners once before in the 2013 season.

On the other sideline is Auburn, a team that has had even more severe ups and downs. The Tigers were in such dire straits after their own 1-2 start that Gus Malzahn’s job status was in jeopardy. They went on to beat LSU in late September and rattle off six wins in a row. Auburn got as high as number eight nationally before sliding backwards. The Tigers are now 17th with an 8-4 record.

2017 Sugar Bowl: Team Backgrounds

Auburn Tigers
Southeastern Conference
8-4 (5-3 SEC)
41st bowl appearance in school history (23-15-2)
Best win: vs. Arkansas, 56-3 on October 22
Worst loss: at Georgia, 13-7 on November 12
One stat: Allowed 426 yards per game defensively in four road/neutral games

Oklahoma Sooners
Big 12 Conference champions
10-2 (9-0 Big 12)
50th bowl appearance in school history (28-20-1)
Best win: vs. Oklahoma State, 38-20 on December 3
Worst loss: vs. Houston, 33-23 on September 3
One stat: Mayfield threw 7 TD-3 INT against ranked teams this season at a 59.1% completion rate

2017 Sugar Bowl: The Edge

Offensively, Oklahoma is creaming everyone, though there was clearly some stat-padding against bad teams. Their problem is that they’re not good defensively: OU is 88th in FBS in defensive yardage allowed and 75th in points. If you’ve seen them play this year, you’ve seen some games (e.g. Texas Tech) that they were fortunate not to lose for their team.

The question is if they can blast their way past Auburn. Assume for a moment that Auburn will not be successful shutting down the Sooner offense completely. Oklahoma is beating lots of teams despite their below-average defense, thanks to that offense. The Tigers are okay offensively, but they did most of their damage in October playing inferior teams. Oklahoma is not inferior.

2017 Sugar Bowl: Pick

[header text=”Season Thru 12-31-16 Bowls ATS” subtext=”53-59-2″]

[alert heading=”Auburn vs. Oklahoma (-3)” type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]Oklahoma -3[/alert]

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