By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- It'll be party time in New Orleans for Auburn, which has won a spot in the Sugar Bowl to play Big XII champion Oklahoma on Jan. 2.
Auburn won its Sugar Bowl invitation by being the highest ranked SEC team not heading to the college football playoffs. The Tigers were ranked 14th in in the College Football Playoff standings Sunday, three spots ahead of Florida, the next SEC team.
Auburn-Oklahoma will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 2 -- that's a Monday -- in the Superdome.
"I'm excited for our players, coaches and the Auburn family to experience one of the best bowl games in all of college football," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn in a statement. "We can't wait for this opportunity and look forward to our trip to New Orleans."
Auburn is 8-4 and tied for the second-most wins in the SEC. The Tigers finished in a tie for second in the SEC West. Two of Auburn's losses were to two of the four playoff participants: Clemson and Alabama.
No. 7 Oklahoma is 10-2 and swept through the Big XII with a 9-0 conference record. The Sooners beat Oklahoma State 38-20 Saturday.
Jay Jacobs, Auburn's Director of Athletics, said in a statement the Sugar Bowl is "an outstanding match-up for our team and a great bowl trip for the Auburn family."
"I'm especially happy for our seniors, who will have a chance to play in a big-time game environment one more time as Auburn Tigers. 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. The hospitality is second to none in New Orleans, and I look forward to enjoying it with our loyal fans."
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said on ESPN that his Sooners are excited to play in the Sugar Bowl after winning the Big XII.
"Now we'll be challenged again to be in a major bowl against another excellent football team," he said.
Sugar Bowl ticket requests were available to Tigers Unlimited members, faculty and staff and students on Sunday afternoon. Tickets will go on sale to the general public at AUBTIX.com at 4 p.m. Monday.
Auburn was ranked 17th, and Oklahoma seventh, in Sunday's Associated Press and coaches polls. The SEC coaches voted Auburn this way in their poll: Mississippi State's Dan Mullen had the Tigers ninth. Malzahn and Arkansas' Bret Bielema had Auburn ranked 12th. Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin had Auburn at 15th, Alabama's Nick Saban at 17th and Georgia's Kirby Smart and Vanderbilt's Derek Mason 18th.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
Sugar bowl.. oh so sweet #NolaBoy
-- Tony Stevens (@Tsteve_ocho) December 4, 2016
Sugar Bowl 🍾🍾🍾🍾
-- Josh Holsey (@HeyItsJholsey) December 4, 2016