AUBURN, Ala. — After days of inching closer to reality, the College Football Playoff rankings made it official Sunday afternoon — Auburn is headed to the Sugar Bowl.
Auburn earned the bid for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) against newly crowned Big 12 champion Oklahoma on Sunday. The College Football Playoff committee ranked Gus Malzahn’s Auburn squad as the top SEC team outside of the final four, which is led by undefeated No. 1 seed Alabama.
Where Auburn is ranked
Auburn (8-4, 5-3 SEC) is ranked No. 14 in the final College Football Playoff rankings for the 2016 regular season. This is the highest final ranking for Auburn in the College Football Playoff rankings since their inception in the 2014 season.
What it means for Auburn
The No. 14 spot for Auburn means that it’s the highest-ranked SEC team outside of the College Football Playoff. The SEC has a deal with the Sugar Bowl that gives an automatic bid to the conference in a matchup against the Big 12.
Auburn will take on Oklahoma (10-2, 9-0 Big 12), which secured itself in the Top 10 on Saturday with a 38-20 win in the annual Bedlam rivalry game against Oklahoma State. The win gave the No. 7 Sooners the outright Big 12 championship and an express ticket to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for their matchup with the Tigers.
Oklahoma and Auburn have only met once before in their history — and it just so happened to be at the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma defeated Auburn, 40-22, in the Sugar Bowl following Tigers legend Pat Sullivan’s 1971 Heisman Trophy season.
What’s next for Auburn
The Jan. 2 bowl date for Auburn means the Tigers will have plenty of time to heal from their injuries, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Starting quarterback Sean White is expected to play after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury he aggravated in a late-season loss to Georgia. Running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson will be closer to 100 percent, as will H-back Chandler Cox.