Five Things Oklahoma Football Must Do To Beat Auburn in Sugar Bowl

Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with running back Samaje Perine (32) during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with running back Samaje Perine (32) during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) celebrates with offensive tackle Orlando Brown (78) and center Ty Darlington (56) after catching a touchdown pass during the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) celebrates with offensive tackle Orlando Brown (78) and center Ty Darlington (56) after catching a touchdown pass during the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Match Auburn’s Physicality

Auburn plays a very physical brand of football, and that physicality begins in the trenches.

The Sooners ability to unleash Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon on the ground and go bombs away with Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook through the air is dependent on the protection and blocking provided by OU’s young offensive line. The Sooner O-line is going to face perhaps its toughest challenge of the season going up against one of the best defensive fronts in college football.

Auburn’s features two likely high-round NFL draft picks in Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson. The defensive line pair combined for 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss this season. They are not only big and strong but very physical.

The Sooners are going to have to match that physicality and find a way to avoid getting overpowered and outflanked by the strong Auburn pass rush. If not, it could be a very long and frustrating evening for Mayfield and rough sledding for the two Sooner running backs.

That physicality isn’t present just on the Auburn D-line and the front seven, it also can be found in the back end in man-to-man wide-receiver matchups.

“We can be as physical as we can for nine straight weeks (referring to the Sooners’ nine-game win streak), but if we’re not physical on Monday night, then it doesn’t matter,” said OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley told Justin Ferguson of SECcountry.com. “We’re concentrating on trying to be very physical in this game. We know it’s going to be key.”

One big reason Mayfield was able to complete a nation-best 71 percent of his passes and achieve a 197.7 passing efficiency rating (a full six points better than the NCAA record) was because the Sooner offensive line gave him enough time find and open receivers and deliver accurate throws.

This will be something to keep an eye on on Monday night.