Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Conference pride on the line when Auburn faces Oklahoma (2:23)

Todd McShay, Mark May and Danny Kanell detail what they're looking for when Auburn faces Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. (2:23)

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Date: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome | New Orleans


Best moment: It has to be the LSU game. That wasn’t the most complete game Auburn has played all season, but it was the most compelling by far. One moment, you think Auburn lost. Then, after a review, Auburn won. It was craziness. But it was a defining moment for Gus Malzahn and his team, which went on to win five in a row after the LSU victory.

Lowest moment: It was painful trying to watch Auburn move the ball in the second half at Georgia. Running back Kamryn Pettway didn’t play. Quarterback Sean White was clearly not 100 percent. But the Tigers couldn’t even muster a first down in a game they had to win if they wanted any shot at the division title or the COllege Football Playoff.

Key player: White. The offense just isn’t the same with Jeremy Johnson or John Franklin III under center. That was evident in the Iron Bowl. White might not be the most talented quarterback in the SEC, but when healthy, he’s efficient and he knows how to run the offense. Malzahn expects White to return for the Sugar Bowl.

Motivation level: High. Just go back to last season. Auburn endured a difficult season and got stuck in the Birmingham Bowl. But the players were motivated. They took care of business against a good Memphis team, and it gave them momentum heading into the offseason. It should be the same attitude again this year, especially now that the Tigers are in a better bowl game. -- Greg Ostendorf


Best moment: What’s better for Oklahoma than beating Texas? The Sooners traded punches with the Longhorns in the Red River Showdown before pulling away late. The game was also Dede Westbrook’s breakout party, as he set a school single-game record with 232 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Lowest moment: After dropping the opener to Houston, the Sooners had a prime opportunity for redemption at home against Ohio State. Instead, the Buckeyes wiped out Oklahoma on its home field by three touchdowns while severely dimming the Sooners’ CFP chances.

Key player: It’s difficult to choose between quarterback Baker Mayfield and Westbrook, who are both generating Heisman consideration. Mayfield, however, appears to be on the verge of setting an FBS record for passing efficiency.

Motivation level: Coming into the season, the Sooners had their eyes set on returning to the playoff. So it’ll be interesting to see how motivated they are playing in what amounts to a consolation game. -- Jake Trotter