Time & TV: Saturday, 3 p.m. CT, ESPN
Commentators: Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst) and sideline reporters Holly Rowe and Laura Rutledge.
Line: LSU -13.5 (as of Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT)
A Showdown of the Nation’s best offenses will go down in Atlanta
OU and LSU are closer statistically than you might think (1/5)— Sooner Script (@SoonerScript) December 20, 2019
Total offense – Yards per play@OU_Football (#1): 8.15 ypp@LSUfootball (#3): 7.83 ypp
Total offense – Yards per game
OU (#2): 554.2 ypg
LSU (#1): 554.3 ypg pic.twitter.com/RqBvHY6YxX
During the preseason at Big 12 Media Days, Berry Tramel asked Lincoln Riley if they were anticipating a dip in offensive production from the previous four years despite the addition of a transfer QB of a different mold in Jalen Hurts. Riley said he anticipated no drop-off. Of course, we have finally reached bowl season and the Sooners still rank tops in some offensive categories.
LSU’s offense has seemingly become unlocked under the second-year services of Steve Ensminger and first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady. Joe Burrow, a former Ohio State QB, played for LSU last year but really started to hone his skills as a passer during the second half of the 2018 season. Of course, this season Burrow is fully comfortable with his system in which he is throwing a sharp and highly efficient completion percentage of 78 percent.
It doesn’t hurt that Burrow has a stupendous pair of receivers in Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, who have recorded 1,498 and 1,207 receiving yards in 2019, respectively. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has also been vital to passing game not only as a receiver, but as a superb pass protector. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the chances of Edwards-Helaire being anywhere near 100 percent are minuscule (end even that word is probably charitable).
Sooners Not Able to Play
The best kind of news during the down-time between games, seasons is no news. Unfortunately, this development occurred:
BREAKING: I can confirm @SoonerScoop report. At least three #Sooners — DE Ronnie Perkins, RB Rhamondre Stevenson and WR Trejan Bridges — are suspended for the Peach Bowl. Much more info here: https://t.co/iBa2TfU9pQ— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) December 18, 2019
Fans were officially hit with the news of the suspensions nearly a week before Christmas, but there were rumblings during the entire week. The loss of Trejan Bridges on Special Teams shouldn’t hurt Oklahoma too much, but the hit to the depth at running back (the position room was quite thin with injuries to Trey Sermon and Marcus Major) is far from inconsequential. However, the most detrimental hit toward Oklahoma regarding suspensions was Ronnie Perkins; The All-Big 12 performer became a devastating force as the season went along, and to lose him in the most precious part of the season is a killer.
On top of the suspensions, the Sooners lost Delarrin Turner-Yell during Bowl prep.
#OU safety Delarrin Turner-Yell (broken collarbone) told me the ETA of when he's expected back at 100% is 4-5 months. He doesn't think he'd be able to take part in spring. "It's very frustrating. But I've tried to stay positive. I have some teammates that'll get their shot."— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 26, 2019
Just like the rest of the defense, the safety position at Oklahoma started to become reliable for Alex Grinch and the Sooners. When Grinch came to Norman, he mentioned how “thin” the Sooners were at safety, so for the Sooners to lose DTY is quite a big blow to that position group that was already without the services of Tre Norwood (who had been moved to safety) before the season began.
After the LSU offensive players and offensive coordinator had been very complimentary of the much-improved Sooner defense during their time with the media, many Sooner fans woke up to Patrick Queen’s comments about Lincoln Riley’s offense:
#LSU linebacker Patrick Queen on #Sooners offense: “OLine not great, running backs not great... We are gonna dominate them (#OU). I am very confident in what we got.” #PeachBowl #CFBPlayoff pic.twitter.com/qMg1hrcgzQ— Brandon Drumm (@BrandonDrumm247) December 26, 2019
Maybe Patrick didn’t get the memo about how to take care of business during media sessions, but it was certainly greeted with different expressions from Parnell Motley:
Especially when media is trying to get players to react to it. pic.twitter.com/nZjwBo7Eyk— BoomSoon (@soon_boom) December 26, 2019
This is either the work of an extremely confident defense, or somebody completely insecure. Who knows, but it’s certainly fuel to the fire for the Sooners (as if they actually needed any).
The Sooners have been to four out of the past five College Football Playoffs, and this time their team is flipping the script with its defensive play. As the season waned for Oklahoma, the offense’s ball security seemed to as well, whereas it was a bad moon rising for opposing offenses in regards to Alex Grinch’s defense turning it up a notch. In order for the Sooners to beat the Tigers, they need to make Joe Burrow feel uncomfortable and force a couple of turnovers, and the absence of Ronnie Perkins unfortunately hinders that possibility quite a bit.
Kamiar Mehrabian: LSU 38, OU 24
Jack Shields: LSU 38, OU 28
Allen Kenney LSU 38, OU 28
Kartik Rajendran: LSU 41, OU 24
Seth Oliveras: LSU 42, OU 31
Austin Brown: OU 41, LSU 38