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Sugar Bowl Pick

Auburn

vs.

Oklahoma

1/2/17

In the last bowl game ahead of the playoff championship, two teams that were hoping for more this season meet in the Sugar Bowl in the Superdome. The Sooners were as high as -5 point favorites, but that shot down to -3 a week before the game at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Oklahoma struggled to get off the ground in the first few weeks, losing to both Houston and Ohio State. But the Sooners slowly figured things out and after a couple close wins over TCU and Texas, went on to beat up on the rest of the Big 12. They finished with two huge wins against the next two best teams in the conference, topping West Virginia 56-28 and Oklahoma State 38-20.

It was a similar start to the season for Auburn, having lost to Clemson and Texas A&M, although the Tigers didn't have as high of expectations going into the year. They picked up some nice wins in the middle of the season, beating LSU and thrashing Arkansas, but their issues came up again, losing two of their final three games, one to Georgia 13-7.

The Sooners offense is the main driving force in this game and will be a tall task for this Auburn defense. While the Tigers have been one of the best groups in the SEC, Oklahoma is at a different level than a lot of the teams they've seen.

The Sooners have two Heisman candidates leading the way starting with quarterback Baker Mayfield, who once again had a dominant season with 38 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions while completing 71.2% of his passes. His 12.33 adjusted passing yards per attempt is the highest since Ryan Dinwiddie of Boise State back in 2002. Of course, that's made possible by the talent around him led by stud receiver Dede Westbrook (74 receptions, 1,465 yards, 16 TDs). The running game will also likely produce two 1,000-yard rushers with Joe Mixon (1,183 yards, 8 TDs) and Samaje Perine (974 yards, 11 TDs). Mixon may get suspended for this game due to an off-field incident, but Perine can hold down the fort by himself. That said, the loss of Mixon would hurt the offense as he had the second most receptions on the team so it's something to monitor.

Oklahoma's defense is an issue as seen when they gave up 59 points to Texas Tech earlier this season. They have seemingly picked it up in recent games, holding both WVU and OK State below 30 points, but it's still hard to trust this group.

The good news for Auburn is that they'll get all their top guys back on the offensive side including quarterback Sean White, who missed the last couple games of the season. His numbers aren't amazing (9 TDs, 3 INTs), but he's better than backup Jeremy Johnson. Also returning and near full health is leading running back Kamryn Pettway (1,123 yards). He'll be joined by Kerryon Johnson (862 yards, 11 TDs) with both expected to get tons of work.

The line was pushed in Auburn's favor as of late mainly because of Oklahoma's weak defense. And the last time the Tigers came off a bye, they ran through Arkansas 56-3. The Sooners can score, but can they stop Auburn's ground game?

The Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games and 5-0 ATS in their last five non-conference games. The Sooners have covered in five straight against a team with a winning record, but haven't covered in their last five non-conference games and are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 bowl games. Both sides have a lot of trends that point to the under, but that'll be hard to take in this matchup.

Our Pick - Auburn +3

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