By Ryan Mayer
The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline/Bookmaker.eu. Find all our picks here.
All lines listed are as of publishing date. As always lines may change in the lead up to games so be sure to check.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
#14 Auburn vs. #7 Oklahoma
Spread: Oklahoma -3
Spread: The Sooners are all-offense, little-defense. The Tigers feature the second best defense in the SEC outside of the Crimson Tide. Talk about a fun match-up. The Sooners offense is loaded with talent. QB Baker Mayfield and WR Dede Westbrook were both Heisman finalists and rightfully so. Mayfield threw for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns, 16 of those went to Westbrook along with 1,465 of those yards. Combine those two with the running back duo of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon and you’ve got an offense that rolls up 44.7 PPG, 319.8 passing yards per game and 160.8 rushing yards per game. They’ll be facing an Auburn defense that gives up just 15.6 points per game and a total of 348.4 yards per game (124.8 rush, 223.6 pass). The Tigers defense has been just average against the pass, and it doesn’t help that two of their top defensive backs Jonathan Ford and Joshua Holsey are currently hobbled by ankle injuries.
The Tigers offense gets some good news in that QB Sean White will have plenty of time to rest his injured shoulder. White has been the only effective quarterback option for Gus Malzahn this year and getting him back near full strength is vital. That’s especially true against a Sooners defense that has been brutally bad against the pass this year allowing opponents 279 yards per game through the air. They’ve been better in recent weeks, but White should be able to find some success to at least balance out the offense. The running game is the truly devastating part of the Tigers attack led by battering ram Kamryn Pettway. The 6-foot 240-pound back has been running over opponents all season to the tune of 1,123 yards on 6.1 yards per carry. Combine him with Kerryon Johnson (862 yards 11 TDs 5 YPC) and you’ve got a rushing attack capable of gashing the Sooners run defense that has given up 4.6 yards per carry this year. In the end, the Sooners passing attack hits a few more big plays and the Sooners pull out a tight one. Oklahoma -3
Total: This one is tough to gauge. It could turn into a shootout solely because of the big-play ability from the Sooners passing game and the Tigers run game. Or, Auburn’s defense could force some punts, run the clock and keep the score down that way. I think it’s likely to be the latter despite Mayfield connecting on a couple of big plays. Under 62.5
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.