Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma cruise after Auburn loses starting QB

NEW ORLEANS -- Sean White said it himself during the run-up to Monday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl: “When [Auburn is] 100 percent, we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”

Without their starting quarterback, the Tigers weren’t tough to beat at all, with Oklahoma’s high-powered offense heating up in the second half and cruising to a 35-19 win.

White suffered a right forearm injury -- reportedly a broken arm -- while taking a big hit from Sooners linebacker Jordan Evans near the end of Auburn’s game-opening touchdown possession. He played three more series after taking that hit, leading the Tigers to one field goal. But once he left the game, backups John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson were unable to score consistently -- and that was a recipe for disaster with Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield & Co. occupying the opposite sideline.

Eventually Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense got hot and took control of the game, rolling up 524 yards of offense and averaging 7.4 yards per play.

Shedding Auburn pass-rushers like a magician, game MVP Mayfield continually extended plays and found open receivers for big gains. He helped turn the game in Oklahoma’s favor on consecutive second-quarter possessions, first hitting Joe Mixon on a wheel route for a 32-yard gain on third-and-22 and later with a 26-yard completion to Dede Westbrook on fourth-and-4. The Sooners followed both clutch conversions with touchdowns to claim a lead they would not relinquish.

Mixon had the biggest spotlight on him all night -- and not entirely because of his on-field performance. Mixon had a huge game, rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns and catching five passes for 89 yards. But the Auburn fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome weren’t about to let Oklahoma brush under the rug the 2014 incident in which Mixon punched a female student, a source of controversy since video of the incident emerged in mid-December.

Auburn fans booed Mixon multiple times, chanting “He hits women” at one point just before halftime. Mixon responded to the chants by beckoning fans to cheer louder.

It didn’t matter how loudly Auburn’s fans cheered, however. Just like earlier in the season when White dealt with a shoulder injury, the Tigers’ offense sputtered without him taking the snaps. Franklin led Auburn on a single field goal drive, and Johnson led the Tigers on one meaningless touchdown drive, scoring on a 1-yard pass to Jalen Harris as time expired.

Meanwhile, the Sooners’ cast of characters on offense began to wear down a solid Auburn defense that wasn’t getting any support.

Samaje Perine ran for 86 yards and a touchdown, moving past Billy Sims to become Oklahoma’s all-time leading rusher. The Sooners crowded around the junior back in the fourth quarter and celebrated after he achieved the milestone.

Mayfield finished 19-of-28 for 296 yards with touchdown passes to Westbrook and Mark Andrews, and the Sooners outgained Auburn 299 yards to 160 in the second half.

Kam Pettway -- another of the players whose injuries derailed Auburn’s offense late in the season -- led the Tigers with 24 carries for 101 yards, but that was little consolation for an Auburn team that simply was outclassed on Monday, especially without its starting quarterback.