By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - From the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in their first season to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in their last, Auburn's seniors will have experienced two of college football's iconic venues.
"As a freshman coming in, we went to the Rose Bowl," said receiver Tony Stevens. "Leaving, as a senior, the Sugar Bowl is going to be a big deal. It's going to be fun, but it's going to be business at the end of the day."
"From my redshirt year, playing in no bowl game, then the Rose Bowl, now the Sugar Bowl, that's a pretty awesome experience," Leff said. "I'm lucky to be able to do all of those things."
Auburn (8-4), No. 14, will play No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2) January 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
"We're going down there to try to get win number nine," said defensive lineman Montravius Adams. "It's a great experience for all of the young guys. For us seniors, to try to go out on a high note and pass the torch down to the juniors so they can have a head start on next season."
The Sooners will bring a 9-game win streak into the Superdome. The Tigers enjoyed a 6-game streak of their own until injuries slowed Auburn's offense late in the season.
"Now that we have time for everybody to heal up, everybody to be healthy and game plan, I think we can come out and play at our best," Leff said. "Prove that we're the number one offense, and show that our defense can actually do some spectacular things when we're doing what we should do on the offensive side of the ball."
Oklahoma's offense features two Heisman finalists, quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook. Adams scouted the Sooners by watching Oklahoma defeat Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 championship.
"They're a good running team," Adams said. "They're really just a good team. They have good backs and a good quarterback. A good corps of receivers. I think it'll be a good challenge."
"We faced adversity all year," Stevens said. "We overcame it. So it's going to be us against the world, again. It's nothing we're not used to."
A prime-time victory over a high-profile opponent would be an attention-getting way for Auburn's seniors to conclude their careers.
"I'm excited to be able to play a team that, when we beat them we can prove that we're as good as everybody thought we were," Leff said. "I think it's going to be a great experience. I'm definitely pumped. The season didn't turn out, a couple games, like we hoped, but we still get an opportunity to go prove ourselves again, so that's awesome."
"The Sugar Bowl is going to be very special," Stevens said. "We're going to try to practice hard and go out there and get a W."
In the days leading up to the game, the Tigers will have opportunities to explore a unique city.
"It's so colorful," said Stevens, whose previous visit occurred on his way to a football game in Baton Rouge. "Painting on the walls. The city is active. Heard about the food, also. The Jambalaya, crawfish. I hope we get to taste some of that."
"It's great," said Leff. "It's more than I could have asked for. I never thought that I would be in this type of situation, coming from high school. After a long career in college, this is an amazing way to finish, in New Orleans. I'll have all of my family there, everybody watching, and a great challenge, also."
The Sugar Bowl will be the 36th and final Auburn start for Adams, who has become a fan favorite for his outstanding play and community service.
"To leave a final legacy of a player who would leave it all on the line for his team," he said.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer