Bob Stoops (left) is shown with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Sunday in New Orleans at the final Sugar Bowl pre-game press conference.
Stoops led the Sooners to the Big 12 championship and they come into the contest as the favorite on the strength of a nine-game winning streak. “Every year it is important to win your last game,” he said. “It is always--it makes for a better, you know, out of season, and so that is always the goal, you know, to win this last game.”
Kickoff is set for approximately 7:30 p.m. CST from the Superdome for just the second meeting between the two teams. The Sooners won the initial matchup, 40-22, to close the 1971 season.
Commenting on this year’s Auburn team, Stoops noted that Auburn has a potent running attack. “Yeah, it’s a challenge. They got a lot of motion. A lot of distractions to try to get you out of your space or get your eyes in the wrong place, with a big, strong physical back (Kamryn Pettway) also that is back and healthy. That is another challenge just with his strength and size so it will take a lot of discipline defensively to be where we need to be, and then we are going to need to tackle well and be physical.”
Asked what he sees from Malzahn’s offensive system, Stoops said, “Just very creative with all of the different formations, personnel groupings, motions, you know, they give you a lot to read and to figure out, you know, as they try and create their seams and their gaps to run the football. You have just got to be very disciplined to be able to handle it all.”
The Tigers will have their No. 1 quarterback, Sean White, back in the starting lineup after missing the previous two games. Stoops said the redshirt sophomore makes “good decisions”?in game situations.
“He has got a good arm throwing the football, a great competitor,” Stoops said. “He is a very good football player for them and has the ability to run some as well. Not as much as some of the other guys, but still he can hurt you when he pulls the ball down or the opportunities he gets, he does a good job with them.”
Bob Stoops has 14 seasons with 10 or more victories in 18 years as head coach of the Sooners.
One of the matchups that could determine who brings home the Sugar Bowl trophy is how Oklahoma’s offensive line handles Auburn’s defensive front.
“Definitely, our line has done an excellent job through the year of really just gelling as we went through the season, got better and better,” Stoops said.
“We are going to face a great defensive line. The two guys that really stick out are (Carl) Lawson and (Montravius) Adams--great players up there, but all of the guys that rotate in there with them really do an excellent job. They are so very physical active, up front. It will be a challenge.”
The Sooners, who haven’t lost a game since falling to Houston and Ohio State in September, are ready to play, their head coach said.
“I feel like our players have really handled it well,” he said of preparations to take on the Tigers from the SEC. “Everybody has been attentive and on time at meetings and practice, those kinds of things, so I feel like we have had a great week of preparation and we are excited to play an excellent Auburn football team, a team that is now healthy. As everyone knows, they had some guys banged up towards the end of the season and they are now expected back.”