OU's offense vs. Auburn's defense
NEW ORLEANS, LA - Many are viewing Monday night's Sugar Bowl as a battle between Oklahoma's offense and Auburn's defense.
Something will have to give.
Auburn ranks 5th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 15.6 ppg. The Tigers also have 25 sacks on the season, accounted by nine different players. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield says the Sooners will have to execute to their best ability.
"It starts up front," said Mayfield. "Teams don't allow them to really drop back and let long things go down the field, so we'll have to take care of the front line and take care of our match-ups. They use the advantages of their match-ups and they play aggressively. We'll see if we can get our receivers open and have some quick things happen. It always comes down to taking care of your one on ones."
On the other hand, the Tigers defense will have plenty to worry about with Baker and company. The Sooners rank third in the country in total offense, averaging about 45 ppg. Making OU one dimensional will be tough, especially when the Sooners have elite weapons in both their run and pass game.
"Most swords have two sides and they can both cut you," said Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. "They're talented but you can't just say we're going to load up and they're not going to run the ball. Well, then they'll throw for 450 yards."
Auburn defensive back Joshua Holsey says Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook will present a big challenge.
"He's explosive, he's very explosive," said Holsey. "He wasn't the best wide receiver by accident. A lot of big plays, a lot of touchdowns. He's a really nice, smooth route runner."