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Who: #7 Oklahoma vs #14 Auburn
When: January 2, 8:30PM EST
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
This is a hard game to predict. Both teams are very strong programs with impact players and have been battle tested throughout the year.
Strengths for Auburn
The Tigers have a super strong defense, and have only allowed 30 points once this season (vs. Alabama). They have good pass rushers that could make it very difficult for Baker Mayfield.
Sean White’s offense is just as strong…when he’s healthy (see: weaknesses). If White’s shoulder is good to go, the Tigers will present a very impressive pass attack. He completes 65.2 percent of his passes and should be a thorn in the Sooners’ side if he is healthy and ready to go.
RB Kamryn Pettway is also healthy now, and he should prove to be a strong force for Auburn. He has had 1,123 yards in only 9 games this season.
Weaknesses for Auburn
If Sean White isn’t as healthy as he seems, or he hasn’t found his stride by halftime, the Tigers will have a really hard time moving the ball down the field.
Auburn took big losses from Georgia and Texas A&M which were pretty embarrassing and worrisome. Their only win since November 5 was against Alabama A&M, and they just lost to their rival Alabama. They’ll be looking to redeem themselves, but is it enough?
Strengths for Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield is an amazing QB. He has 3,669 yards this season, and so far has thrown 38 touchdowns. If he is able to heat up early, it’ll be a short day for the Tigers.
Oklahoma has two great running backs (again, see the weaknesses section) who will hopefully turn out to play well. Samaje Perine is a great back with a lot of talent (974 yards on 179 attempts and 11 touchdowns). This is decidedly less than his last two seasons, but everyone knows he is still extremely talented.
Joe Mixon is also an amazing back who can be used as a threat in the running game and the passing game with 1,183 rushing yards and 449 receiving yards this season.
Weaknesses for Oklahoma
There’s only one problem with Mixon: he reportedly physically assaulted a woman in 2014. The video was released, and the controversy is heating up again. He has been cleared to play, but I’m wondering if his head will be able to put the distractions to the side and focus on winning the game for the Sooners.
The Sooners have a hard time defending the run, and this should prove to be a problem with Pettway healthy.
I could easily see this game going either way. However, I will have to go with the Sooners. Their diverse offense, with a great quarterback and two great running backs, will prove difficult to contain.