Defensive end Jeff Holland misses a tackle on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield for a potential safety.
New Orleans, La.-- Auburn's late season fade continued in the Sugar Bowl as Oklahoma took control in the third quarter on the way to a 35-19 Sugar Bowl victory over the Auburn football Tigers on Monday night at the Superdome.
“I am disappointed for our players, I am disappointed for our fans and especially our seniors,” Coach Gus Malzahn said after his team dropped to 8-5 for the season.
“This group of seniors showed great leadership their whole career, especially this year getting us to this game,” Malzahn said. “It is real tough for them.”
It was tough night for Auburn’s quarterbacks in sharp contrast to the way things went for Oklahoma star Baker Mayfield, who hit 19-28 passes for 296 yards and two scores with no turnovers. He also rushed for 34 yards on four carries and escaped Auburn’s pass rush on multiple occasions.
In contrast, Auburn starter Sean White suffered a broken bone in his forearm on a three-yard run on Auburn’s opening drive. When he had trouble throwing the ball after that he was pulled.
In the second half White’s backup, John Franklin, had to give way to Jeremy Johnson, also due to an injury. For the game Auburn’s four passers, including running back Kerryon Johnson, completed just 13-27 passes for 154 yards and Johnson was intercepted in the end zone.
“He thought he had just pulled something and thought he could do it (continue to play),” Malzahn said. “Obviously, there were a couple of throws we kind of questioned and got him out and we got him X-Rayed.
“John Franklin had a similar situation,” Malzahn said. “I don’t think that it is broke. It is something in his forearm. He got hit and he had trouble gripping the ball when he was trying to throw and warm up it would cramp on him.”
White said he tried to play through the problem, but he noted the longer he played the more his forearm hurt and it began swelling. “Especially after the swing pass to Kerryon in the flat went straight to the ground I knew something wasn’t right,” he said.
The redshirt sophomore QB said it was a frustrating way to finish the season after being excited about the opportunity to play again. “I was 100 percent throwing the ball in practice,” ?he said.
Auburn won the toss and took advantage of the first possession, holding the football for 14 plays and moving it 75 yards. Chandler Cox scored on a three-yard run at left tackle for his first college touchdown.
That was the only scoring until 11:24 remained in the second quarter when the Sooners completed their own 14-play drive that officially covered 90 yards. However, factoring in the penalties the Sooners gained 120 yards on the series. Mark Andrews scored the touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Baker Mayfield.
Auburn moved 43 yards on 12 plays to take a 10-7 lead when Daniel Carlson nailed a 49-yard field goal, but the Sooners trumped that with a touchdown.
Joe Mixon scored on a three-yard run with 3:37 left in the half after the Sooners converted a fourth down at four at the AU 29-yard line on a pass to Dede Westbrook.
With White unable to play due to an injury, Franklin took over at QB and moved the Tigers 63 yards in 11 plays before the Tigers settled for a 39-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in the half.
The Sooners wasted little time in adding to their lead after intermission. They moved 75 yards on just six plays with the finale a seven-yard swing pass to Westbrook, who used his speed to score at left end to make the score 21-13 at the 12:39 mark.
In contrast, the Tigers struggled on their opening possession of the third quarter, going three-and-out before giving the ball back to the Sooners on a punt.
Oklahoma drove the ball into Tiger territory again, but came up empty when a 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 7:27 to play in the third quarter.
After another three-and-out for the Tigers the Sooners drove 85 yards on just seven plays as the Auburn defense barely slowed the OU?offense. Mixon scored on a four-yard run at right end on a direct snap to the running back.
After the Tigers again failed to gain a first down the Sooners had another impressive touchdown driving, moving 71 yards on eight plays. A three-yard keeper by running back Samaje Perine made the score 35-13 with 12:40 left in the final quarter.
Auburn’s last score came on the final play of the game, a one-yard jump pass from Kerryon Johnson to tight end Jalen Harris, who said he thought the play was going to work, but hoped it would be in a situation to help the Tigers win the game.
The Sooners finished their season with an 11-2 record and have won 10 consecutive games.
“It’s really special,” Stoops said of his team’s victory, which included 524 yards of total offense while holding the Tigers to 339 yards.
“Our players did an awesome job, they really played up to this…worked hard and were ready for the game,” he said. “Our assistant coaches did a great job so it’s pleasing. Auburn’s a really good team, so compliments to them for a really good year.”
Harris said it was a disappointing finish to Auburn’s season, especially seeing his senior teammates go out as losers. “At the end of the day we have to learn from it and get better in the offseason,” the sophomore tight end said.
Auburn rushed for 185 yards with Kamryn Pettway leading the way with 101 on 24 carries.
Kamryn Pettway averaged 4.2 yards per carry vs. the Sooners.
Worth Noting, Part 1: Harris has two catches as an AU player and both were for touchdowns.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Malzahn said that senior Rudy Ford tried to play, but two days before kickoff he was struggling with his mobility in practice from an ankle injury and was a no-go for the bowl game.
Stat of the Game: The Sooners averaged 7.6 yards per offensive snap while Auburn was at 4.6 yards per play.
Up Next: The Tigers will open their 2017 season on Sept. 2nd at Jordan-Hare Stadium vs. Georgia Southern.