The Oklahoma Sooners will be missing their top pass rusher and second-team running back when they take on the LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff semifinals, according to a report from SoonerScoop.com.
Multiple sources have confirmed to SoonerScoop that Rhamondre Stevenson, Ronnie Perkins and Trejan Bridges have been suspended for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) December 18, 2019
SoonerScoop said Wednesday that it confirmed sophomore defensive end Ronnie Perkins, junior running back Rhamondre Stevenson and freshman wide receiver Trejan Bridges are suspended from playing versus No. 1 LSU in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28. OU head coach Lincoln Riley declined to comment on the matter Wednesday during an early signing day press conference, which speaks volumes about the report’s accuracy.
Lincoln Riley: "I'm aware of the report that is out there. Unfortunately at this time I cannot comment on it."— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) December 18, 2019
He then later says that Kennedy Brooks will play. Asked about Rhamondre Stevenson, Riley says, "Kennedy Brooks will play."
Losing Perkins strikes a blow to OU’s hopes of upsetting the Tigers, who boast the highest-powered offense in the country. A two-year starter at defensive end, Perkins led the Sooners in sacks with five in 2018 and six in 2019. Replacing one of the cornerstones of the OU defense will probably fall on freshman Marcus Stripling and sophomore Isaiah Thomas, who combined for three sacks this year.
Stevenson, meanwhile, took on a key role in the Sooner offense this season as a change-of-pace runner behind bell cow RB Kennedy Brooks. The JUCO transfer ran for 515 yards and six touchdowns for the season on just 64 carries. The suspension would leave OU’s once-stacked group of running backs perilously thin heading into a game in which the Sooners will likely need to control the clock to have a shot at winning.
Sophomore T.J. Pledger would seem to be the most obvious candidate to pick up a bit Stevenson’s workload against the Tigers, assuming Riley even wants to play an additional back.
A promising freshman wideout, Bridges has played a visible role in kickoff coverage on special teams this season. His physical play actually earned Bridges a short-lived audition at safety in the middle of the year.
LSU is currently a two-touchdown favorite over the Sooners in their Peach Bowl matchup in Atlanta.