Rapid reaction: A sour ending for Auburn in Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma
No. 14 Auburn got off to a good start as the Tigers took a 10-7 lead over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl Monday night. Once the Sooners’ offense started clicking, however, it became a rough night in a 35-19 loss for Gus Malzahn’s squad.
What it means: The Tigers go into the offseason on a negative note, losing three of their final four games to finish 8-5, only a one-game improvement over last season.
What I liked: Auburn’s game-opening drive, a 14-play, 75-yard march that featured only two passes. The Tigers, who entered the game running the ball 70 percent of the time, raised that number to 83 while capping the drive with Chandler Cox’s first touchdown of the year, a 3-yard run. Auburn also chewed up nearly six minutes. …
Auburn’s defense came out strong on Oklahoma’s first possession, surrendering just 21 yards on five plays. … The Tigers were even more impressive on the Sooners’ second drive, yielding 18 yards on four plays. … AU holding Oklahoma scoreless and to just 65 total yards in the first quarter. …
Daniel Carlson’s 49-yard field goal that gave Auburn a 10-7 left with 7:16 left in the first half. … John Franklin III’s first two passes, which he completed for 21 yards. … Auburn rushing for 123 first-half yards on 29 carries. … A turnover-free first half. … The Tigers holding Oklahoma to a 42-yard field-goal attempt, which Austin Seibert missed wide right.
What I didn’t like: Running John Franklin III on 3rd-and-12 on Auburn’s second drive. There’s no guarantee Sean White would have completed a pass on that play, but the Tigers played right into Oklahoma’s hands with another rush attempt. … Oklahoma’s first scoring drive, which covered 90 yards on 14 plays in 6:39. Auburn’s defense looked tired toward the end of it. … Auburn’s second-quarter drive that stalled at the Oklahoma 32, which led to Daniel Carlson’s 49-yard field goal. The Tigers could have really used a touchdown there. … White leaving the game in the second quarter with an apparent arm injury, which his father reportedly said was broken. …
White ending the first half with five straight incompletions. … Oklahoma’s second half-opening drive: six plays, 75 yards in 2:21, culminating with Dede Westbrook’s 7-yard catch and run. … Auburn being outscored 14-0 and being outgained 207-21 in the third quarter.
Key play: Auburn yielding a 26-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Dede Westbrook on a 4th-and-4 play that set up Mixon’s 3-yard TD run on the next play and gave Oklahoma the lead for good.
Who’s the man? It’s usually not a good thing when your kicker is your best performer on offense, and once again that was the case against the Sooners. Daniel Carlson made two field goals, the second of which got Auburn within 14-13. But those three points were the last ones the Tigers would score until Jeremy Johnson’s jump pass for touchdown on the final play of the game.
What’s next: All eyes shift to the quarterback position. Jeremy Johnson has played his final game. The Tigers will enter spring practice with White, Franklin and Baylor/JUCO transfer Jarrett Stidham. With Malzahn entering his fifth year on the Plains, the pressure is on for his passing game to show significant improvement in 2017, and that starts with his signal-caller.
In what could be his final game at Auburn, Carl Lawson finished with two tackles, including one for a loss.