Sugar Bowl grades: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield earns top grade in win
Oklahoma Sooners 35, Auburn Tigers 19
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Sooners’ Sugar Bowl victory over the Auburn Tigers.
Quarterback grade: Baker Mayfield, 89.3
Mayfield, Sooners’ offense too much for the Tigers
Baker Mayfield continued his string of excellent performances by earning the highest grade of the game in the Sugar Bowl. He excelled when under pressure, with an almost perfect quarterback rating of 156.3, going 6-of-8 for 102 yards and a touchdown when under duress. Auburn’s defense was in a tricky spot; when they didn’t blitz the Sooner quarterback, he shredded them by going 14-of-20 for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Mayfield has said he will return for his senior season, which will no doubt make Oklahoma one of the top teams to watch in 2017.
Baker Mayfield versus pressure in the Sugar Bowl
Top graded offensive players
QB Baker Mayfield, 89.3
HB Joe Mixon, 84.9
T Orlando Brown, 77.2
G Ben Powers, 71.7
TE Dimitri Flowers, 70.8
Sooners accumulate over 500 yards of offense
The combination of running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine once again proved to be too much for an opposing defense, this time against an SEC run defense that came into the game ranked among the top 20 in terms of yards allowed. Mixon and Perine combined for 36 carries, running for over 170 yards and forcing six missed tackles between the two. It was a historic night for Perine, as he broke Billy Sims’ career rushing record for Oklahoma; the bruising back had to earn every yard on the evening, as 65 of his 86 rushing yards came after contact.
Top defensive players
LB Jordan Evans, 83.2
S Ahmad Thomas, 80.1
ED Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 79.9
CB Jordan Thomas, 78.9
LB Caleb Kelly, 77.7
Defense stifles Auburn after first series
The Sooner defense surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, a series that lasted 14 plays and 75 yards. After that, they effectively shut the Tigers’ offense down. They held Auburn to only 4 yards per carry on 45 attempts and forced the Tigers to go to the air. Jordan Evans and Caleb Kelly were both outstanding against the run, combining for 14 stops on the night. Edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo provided plenty of pressure up front for the Sooners, hurrying the opposing quarterback six times, and also coming away with two QB hits.
Quarterback grade: Sean White, 56.9
Offense struggles after White’s early departure
The Tigers’ offense couldn’t seem to maintain any rhythm after quarterback Sean White left with an injury in the first half. A promising opening drive would be the Tigers’ best series of the game, as the shuffling of quarterbacks killed any consistency. White finished only 4-of-9 for 35 yards, but kept the defense at bay with his threat of throwing the ball. Backup quarterbacks John Franklin and Jeremy Johnson finished a combined 8-of-16 for just over 110 yards.
Sean White versus pressure in the Sugar Bowl
Top offensive players:
G Braden Smith, 74.3
WR Eli Stove, 71.5
HB Kamryn Pettway, 69.7
WR Darius Slayton, 68.6
WR Tony Stevens, 68.5
Offensive line has trouble against Sooners’ speed
Auburn didn’t waver much from their typical formula on offense, keeping the ball on the ground and letting their two running backs make plays for them. They ran the ball 45 times for 178 yards, with a huge amount of those yards coming after contact—143, to be exact. Pettway ran strong with 71 of his 101 yards on the ground coming after contact; he also forced six missed tackles. The quicker Kerryon Johnson didn’t have as much luck, ending up with under 4 yards per carry on nine rushes. You could see throughout the evening that Auburn’s offensive linemen had a difficult time securing blocks at the second level against Oklahoma’s speedy linebackers.
Top defensive players:
ED Carl Lawson, 84.5
DI Dontavius Russell, 77.3
DI Marlon Davidson, 75.9
S Tray Matthews, 75
CB Carlton Davis, 66.6
Lawson top-graded player on Tigers’ defense by a wide margin
Carl Lawson flashed his speed and explosiveness off the edge, forcing five quarterback hurries and also disrupting running lanes on the ground, making two stops and maintaining gap control. The Tigers were unable to get any consistent pass-rush on QB Baker Mayfield outside of Lawson, as other players only forced five total pressures on the Sooner quarterback. Starting cornerbacks Joshua Holsey and Javaris Davis held their own against a lethal Oklahoma passing attack, having been targeted a combined six times and surrendering three catches for 45 yards.
PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy.