Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma 35, Auburn 19, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma 35, Auburn 19, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?


Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma 35, Auburn 19, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?


Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma 35, Auburn 19, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Oklahoma rolled by Auburn 35-19 with a terrific Sugar Bowl performance. What are the five things that matter? What does it all mean?

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Baker Mayfield just threw his hat into the 2017 Heisman trophy front-runner ring

As if he wasn’t in the equation before.

The Sooner Heisman finalist came up with a special performance against a swarming and talented Auburn defense, completing 19-of-28 passes for 296 yards and two scores, and ran four times for 34 yards – doing magical things along the way to make most of those plays happen.

Mayfield had a nice game in the College Football Playoff vs. Clemson, too, but the rest of the team didn’t help the cause. This year, he’ll go into the offense as the signature star – even more so than Jackson and Darnold – because of his flair, because of his personality, and because of his style. He’s going to make Oklahoma a bigger thing than it would’ve been as the favorite to win the Big 12.

The Joe Mixon issue

Here’s the problem – why are people so mad now because the video is out? Weren’t you this mad two years ago when the incident actually happened, or did you need to see it?

It was an ugly issue before, and it’s an ugly issue now, and it’s an even uglier overall problem for Oklahoma because it came back around just when the Sooner were going to be on the national stage again.

On the field, he was magnificent, running for 91 yards and two scores and catching five passes for 89 more. He’s going to be a great all-around pro player – the NFL is just fine with Tyreek Hill right now, it’ll find a place for Mixon – and he was one of the key stars to win the Sugar Bowl.

Samaje Perine should’ve received more praise for passing Billy Sims on the all-time OU rushing list – he ran for 86 yards and a score – but it was impossible to ignore the elephant in the room.

Made worse by Brent Musburger trying – and failing – to make his point that Mixon deserved a second chance.

And that made the Sugar Bowl sort of a problem at times to watch. This should’ve been all about Oklahoma winning its 11th game and rolling over a strong SEC team, and it just wasn’t.

Auburn’s struggles

On the plus side, Kamryn Pettway was back and looked okay, pounding out 101 yards on 24 carries, but that was the lone bright spot.

The defense was supposed to be better, but the Sooners took over in the second quarter and rolled from there, but the offense was supposed to rock, too, and it looked like it after the first drive. But the passing game didn’t stretch the field, OU realized it didn’t need to worry about anything down the field, and it teed off on Pettway and the run.

Sean White completed just 4-of-10 passes for 35 yards, got hurt, and that was it. And that’s a problem.

Gus Malzahn is an offensive coaching star, and his Os are supposed to roll no matter what. Instead, four quarterbacks combined to completed 13-of-27 passes for 154 yards and a score with a pick, with one 56-yard pass play to Darius Slayton, and that was it down the field. That was it for the ground game that couldn’t pick up the slack.

That was it for what was supposed to be a shootout. Sooooo …

What’s next for Auburn in 2017?

Jarrett Stidham.

Sean White might be back, and John Franklin III is around, but the Baylor transfer isn’t coming to Auburn to hang around and watch the fun. He’s good enough to take the offense to a whole new level of downfield passing, but the attack will still work around Kamryn Pettway and the running game. Almost all of the top receivers are back, and they’ll be better with Stidham under center. Guard Alex Kozan is gone, along with tackle Robert Leff, but this is a veteran line that should be fine with a little bit of time.

Montravius Adams is a huge loss in the defensive interior – literally – and Carl Lawson is destined for the NFL, but the line gets enough talent back for a solid rotation. The linebacking corps should be a huge strength – at least in terms of experience – with all the starters back. Corner Joshua Holsey is gone and Johnathan Ford will be missed, but the secondary will be terrific is the pass rushers emerge up front.

What’s next for Oklahoma in 2017?

Baker Mayfield is the superstar back to lead the attack, but who’ll be with him? The backfield tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are ready to go to the big leagues, and Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook is finished, but it’s Oklahoma – there will be more stars ready to step in. Mark Andrews and Jeffery Mead need to shine at receiver, and new backs need to emerge, but again, that shouldn’t be a big deal. The line will be amazing with four starters back, only replacing center Erick Wren.

Star free safety Ahmad Thomas is finished, as is LB Jordan Evans, but overall, the defense will be outstanding – assuming most of the key parts stick around. Three starters should be back in the secondary, and the linebacking corps has playmakers – needing the pass rush to roll from the outside spots – but the line needs replacements. It held up more than fine against Auburn, but two starters on the front three are gone.

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