NEW ORLEANS – Baker Mayfield passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns, including one scoring pass to fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Dede Westbrook, and seventh-ranked Oklahoma ended its season on a 10-game winning streak, defeating No. 17 Auburn 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl on Monday night.
Sooners running back Joe Mixon heard repeated boos from Auburn fans who also shouted derisive comments regarding a recently publicized video of Mixon punching a woman in the face in 2014. Mixon, who has apologized for the assault, also drew cheers from crimson-clad Oklahoma fans with his play. His two short touchdown runs were among the highlights of a performance in which he gained 180 yards from scrimmage – 91 rushing on 19 carries and 89 receiving on five catches.
Auburn (8-5), which wound up in the Sugar Bowl despite dropping its last two Southeastern Conference games to Georgia and Alabama, entered the game hopeful that it would be buoyed by the return of quarterback Sean White, who’d missed the Tigers’ final two games with a throwing shoulder injury. White led Auburn to a touchdown on its first series – Chandler Cox’s 3-yard run on fourth down – but the quarterback left the game for good in the first half with a right arm injury.
With John Franklin and Jeremy Johnson taking the remainder of the snaps, the Tigers’ offense was less consistent, increasing pressure on Auburn’s 20th-ranked defense to keep the Sooners’ fast-paced, high-powered attack in check.
That was bound to be a struggle.
Mixon broke loose for a 35-yard run in the third quarter that set up his second TD, which he scored from 4 yards out by diving for the pylon. Early in the fourth quarter, Samaje Perine took a direct snap for a 2-yard TD that made it 35-13.
With the Sooners (11-2) pulling away for their second Sugar Bowl triumph in four years, Auburn fans started filing out.
With back-to-back fourth-quarter runs of 16 and 15 yards, Perine reached the 83-yard mark, giving him the Oklahoma record for career yards rushing with 4,119. He added 3 more yards afterward to reach 4,122. The previous record of 4,118 was set by Billy Sims back in 1979. When Perine set the mark, Mixon quickly trotted toward him for a congratulatory embrace on the field.
Auburn: The Tigers had the talent to beat some good teams, but a lack of depth hurt them against elite competition. Oklahoma, winner of the Big 12, was the third conference champ Auburn faced this season, along with Clemson of the ACC and Alabama of the SEC. The Tigers lost all three.
Oklahoma: The Sooners continued to make a case that they’ve been playing well enough at the end of the season to be worthy of a College Football Playoff bid, which only makes their early season stumbles, including a lopsided loss to Ohio State, seem all the more costly.
Auburn: The Tigers head into next season with some questions at quarterback. White hoped to solidify his position as starter, but his injury could affect his spring. Meanwhile, Jarrett Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, eagerly awaits his chance to compete for first-team snaps.
Oklahoma: Mayfield is coming back after throwing for 3,965 yards this season, but the Sooners will be looking for a new starter at receiver as Westbrook, a senior, departs. Oklahoma also could lose both Mixon, a red-shirt sophomore, and Perine, a junior, to the NFL draft.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter
Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.