Auburn Defense Will Be Sweet In Sugar Bowl Vs. Oklahoma

auburn football defense

Friday, December 16, 2016 3:20 PM GMT

No. 14 Auburn and No. 7 Oklahoma clash in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 (8:30 p.m. ET) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Expect Auburn's defense to slow down the fast-rolling Sooners in an always-appealing SEC-Big 12 showdown.

Auburn Tigers (8-4 SU, 8-3-1 ATS)

Quarterback Sean White and running back Kamryn Pettway each practiced in full in Auburn’s first of eight sessions leading up to the 2017 Sugar Bowl. This is great news for an offense that lost its rhythm to close out the year with the two suffering injuries. The Tigers scored a total of 42 points in their final three SEC games with the duo on the mend; prior to that, the team averaged 36.2 points per game. White was the SEC’s most efficient passer, completing 65.2 percent for 9 TDs, 3 INTs and 1,644 passing yards.

Defense is where Auburn shines. It held 10 of 12 opponents below their average total this season. Allowing .229 points per play, the Tigers' D ranked as the fourth most efficient in college football. Expect it to be the difference-maker in this matchup.

Auburn is just 2-6 SU and 4-4 ATS on college football odds as a dog on neutral soil against non-SEC opponents. None of those have been against Big 12 competition, however.

 

Oklahoma Sooners (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops is just 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS on college football picks vs. SEC foes in the postseason. The two outright wins were wildly different scenarios. The Sooners expectedly topped Arkansas 10-3 as 13-point favorites on in the 2002 Cotton Bowl, but shocked Alabama 45-31 as 16.5-point underdogs in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. They are the only two OU matchups vs. the SEC to go off with a double-digit line.

Stoops’ always-potent offense has struggled to score points against the powerhouse conference come bowl time, averaging 20.2 points per game. This is 19 points below Oklahoma's season average overall entering the contest. The Sooners, in fact, have failed to score more than two touchdowns in four of the matchups.

In 2016, Oklahoma averages 44.7 points against FBS foes, third most in the country behind Louisville (45.3) and Western Kentucky (45.1). Quarterback Baker Mayfield leads an Air Raid attack that posts a 10.8 yards per passing attempt. The unit's 7.4 yards per play against FBS opponents ranked first in the nation.

 

Final Analysis

Historically, the Sooners stink as short-priced favorites against non-conference opponents on neutral soil. Kicking off as 8-point chalk or less under Stoops, they are 1-6 SU and ATS. Moreover, they are 1-8 ATS in their last nine neutral-site games, including failing to cover against Houston and Texas this season. Auburn’s defense should get the better of Oklahoma and keep the game within reach. The wrong team might be favored in this one, and a little on Auburn +135 straight up is nice value. But the best bet goes to Oklahoma 'under' its team total.

NCAAF Free Pick: 'Under' OU Total

Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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