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Malzahn well aware of Mixon's ability

NEW ORLEANS  Gus Malzahn wasn't asked. The Auburn football coach just brought up Joe Mixon.

"He is one of the best running backs in all of college football. And not just running, but he is such a good receiver. So he presents a lot of different challenges."

Malzahn continued gushing over the Oklahoma running back at Sunday's press conference, in a Marriott hotel ballroom in downtown New Orleans, just a day before the Tigers and Sooners meet in the Sugar Bowl, saying Mixon could've easily joined OU stars Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook in New York as Heisman finalists.

That's probably stretching it, but you get the point. One way or the other Mixon's presence will impact Monday's game.

Auburn is physically demanding enough to slug the Sooners out in a low-scoring game. But with OU's offense firing on all cylinders  meaning production from Baker Mayfield, Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Mixon  you wonder if the Tigers are capable of keeping pace with a quarterback (Sean White) and running back (Kamryn Pettway) who've made one combined start since Nov. 12 because of injuries.

If White, Pettway and the Tigers come out firing like gangbusters, OU will need every weapon at its disposal, and Mixon has been one of its best in prime-time situations.

In OU's most meaningful games this season, which can be defined as Houston, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, since those three were the biggest reasons that landed the Sooners in New Orleans, Mixon averaged 202.3 all-purpose yards per game.

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