Oklahoma cruises past Auburn in Sugar Bowl
Oklahoma cruises past Auburn in Sugar Bowl
- Oklahoma cruises past Auburn in Sugar Bowl
Published On: Tue, Jan 03
Dec 30, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Memphis Tigers linebacker Jackson Dillon (34) prepares to wrap up DUPLICATE***Auburn Tigers running back Jovon Robinson (29) in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
NEW ORLEANS -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has heard it before: SEC football teams are bigger, stronger and more physical than teams from the Big 12, as if his seventh-ranked Sooners have been playing flag football for the last several years.
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But after suffocating No. 14 Auburn 35-19 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Tuesday night -- Oklahoma's fourth consecutive victory over an SEC opponent and 10th consecutive win in an 11-2 season -- Stoops had a suggestion.
"Maybe just bury that narrative," Stoops said.
Oklahoma used speed, quickness and power to rout Auburn at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, voted the Sugar Bowl's most outstanding player, dazzled the Tigers with his quick feet and frequently extended plays to make best use of his strong arm.
Mayfield, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy race, completed 19 of 28 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns -- 13 yards to Mark Andrews and 7 yards to Dede Westbrook -- and Semaje Perine ran for 86 yards on 17 carries to become Oklahoma's career rushing leader with 4,122 yards. That total, amassed over 35 games, surpassed Billy Simms' 4,118 career yards in 40 games between 1975-79.
But after spotting Auburn a touchdown on its opening drive, the Oklahoma defense showed it had plenty of muscle as well. The Sooners knocked out Auburn's first two quarterbacks -- starter Sean White sustained a broken right forearm on the opening touchdown drive before playing three more series, and backup John Franklin III sustained a right forearm injury as well in the second half.
"We wanted to shut everybody up," said Oklahoma strong safety Steven Parker. "They said we were a bad defense. They say we're not physical, like the Big 12 is nothing. We showed them."
"Football is football at the end of the day," said Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans. "I don't think anybody cares what conference you're in. As long as your guys line up and play the way you're supposed to play, the better team is always going to win."
Running back Joe Mixon, booed by Auburn fans every time he touched the ball because of a well-publicized incident several years ago in which he punched a woman in the face, scored twice from 3 and 4 yards.
"It's pleasing," Stoops said of Mixon, who gained 101 yards rushing and added another 89 yards on five receptions. "He's a great young man. We talked about it a lot. He has a second chance, and he's making the most of it."
Auburn (8-5) lost to a top 10 team for the seventh time in eight games. Oklahoma led 14-13 at half and outscored Auburn 21-6 in the second half, and Auburn's only score came on the game's final play.
"The second half, they definitely took it to us," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. "We tried to (pass) over the top. We didn't know (Sean's) arm was broke at the time. Then John had a chance to get them over the top, and that's when he had the issue with his arm, too."
Mayfield made the best play of the game, dropping a 26-yard completion to Westbrook on a corner route on fourth-and-4 in the second quarter, setting up Oklahoma at the Auburn 3.
On the next play, Mixon made a stutter step to the left and then burst through a hole for a touchdown that gave Oklahoma a 14-10 lead 3:37 before halftime.
"Probably the biggest factor is confidence in Baker and the offense," Stoop said of his decision to go for the fourth-and-4 conversion.
"We had practiced that look," Mayfield said. "They tried to switch off the coverage with Dede and trying what we call a combo coverage. We practiced it I don't know how many times. We were able to get the ball downfield, and Dede made a great play."
Mayfield completed 8 of 14 passes for 145 yards in the first half, and he showed his leadership in helping the Sooners overcome several major penalties in a 14-play, 90-yard drive that was climaxed by his 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mark Andrews.
On that scoring drive, the Sooners faced a second-and-34 after chop block and holding penalties in a three-play sequence. But on third-and-22, Mayfield rolled left and then turned to throw an across-the-field pass to Mixon, who was alone on a wheel route for a 32-yard gain.
Sooners left tackle Orlando Brown's taunting penalty then forced Oklahoma into a first-and-goal from the 20, but Mayfield calmly rolled to his right on second down, pointed to Andrews in the end zone and then hit him with the scoring pass.
NOTES: After Auburn QB Sean White threw two wildly off-target passes in the second quarter, John Franklin replaced him for the final drive of the half. White battled a shoulder injury for the last two months of the season. ... Auburn K Daniel Carlson, a Lou Groza Award finalist, made field goals of 49 and 39 yards in the first half to raise his season totals to 27 of 31. His second field goal trimmed the Auburn deficit to 14-13. ... The Oklahoma coaching staff dressed down LT Orlando Brown for the taunting call he picked up in the first half. Brown has been heavily penalized this season.
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