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It’s official: Auburn set for Sugar Bowl match-up against Oklahoma

Auburn defensive back Tray Matthews jokes with teamates before a game against Alabama A&M at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn defensive back Tray Matthews jokes with teamates before a game against Alabama A&M at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

The College Football Playoff Selection Show held little drama for Auburn fans.

Florida’s loss in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama Saturday night virtually guaranteed Auburn a spot in the Sugar Bowl.

Auburn (8-4; 5-3 SEC) went into the weekend ranked No. 14, one spot ahead of the Gators in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The Sugar Bowl is contractually obligated to select the highest ranked SEC team not in the College Football Playoff.

ESPN revealed the New Year’s six bowl pairings during the network’s College Football Playoff Selection Show Sunday afternoon.

The early portion of the broadcast was dedicated to the playoff semifinals. The CFP selection committee picked Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington as the top four teams with Alabama playing Washington in the Peach Bowl and Clemson and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Big XII has a similar arrangement to send its conference champion or highest-ranked non-playoff team to the Sugar Bowl.

Oklahoma (10-2; 9-0 Big XII) needed a win Saturday over rival Oklahoma State to lock up a Sugar Bowl berth. The Sooners have won nine straight games since losing 45-24 to Ohio State all the way back on week three of the regular season.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to play in the historic Sugar Bowl against a great Oklahoma team,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in a release. “I’m excited for our players, coaches and the Auburn family to experience one of the best bowl games in all of college football. We can’t wait for this opportunity and look forward to our trip to New Orleans.”

This will be the 13th meeting between teams that now make up the Big 12 and SEC.

Auburn is 2-2-1 in five Sugar Bowl appearances with one of those losses coming at the hand of it’s upcoming opponent on New Year’s Day in 1972.

“One of the Sugar Bowl’s primary objectives has been to preserve its great history while also ensuring a bright and healthy future,” Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said in a release. “This year’s matchup will highlight one of the games from our past as Auburn and Oklahoma also played in our game 45 years ago. With our relationship with the Big 12 and SEC stretching through the 2026 game, we can confidently say the present and future look as good as our past.”

The Tigers’ last trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl came in 2004 under former coach Tommy Tuberville as the No. 3 ranked team in the country. Tuberville’s team beat No. 8 Virginia Tech 16-13 to complete an undefeated season.

“Playing in the Sugar Bowl in 1983 was a highlight for me and our team, so I know from experience it’s a special experience,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a release.

This year’s Sugar Bowl is at 8:30 EST on Jan. 2 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

New Year’s Six Bowl Games

  • Peach Bowl — Alabama vs. Washington*
  • Fiesta Bowl — Clemson vs. Ohio State*
  • Sugar Bowl — Auburn vs. Oklahoma
  • Orange Bowl —Michigan vs. Florida State
  • Cotton Bowl — Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan
  • Rose Bowl — Penn State vs. USC

* Denotes semifinal playoff game