April 9, 2020

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PEACH BOWL PREVIEW: OU VS LSU

LSU and Oklahoma square off for just the third time in both of their storied histories, and the first time since meeting in the 2004 BCS National Championship. A game where the Tigers came away with a 21-14 victory over the Sooners in New Orleans. The LSU-OU series is currently tied at 1-1 with the Tigers looking to improve on that this Saturday in Atlanta.

Oklahoma is led by senior transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is no stranger to the Tigers defense. Before transferring this summer, the signal caller was in Tuscaloosa with the Tide under Nick Saban. Backing up current Bama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts, is not only the leader passer for his team (3,634 yards), but is also the leader rusher (1,255 yards). LSU knows about that athletic ability too well, when in 2016, the only touchdown the Tigers “surrendered” to the Tide came on a controversial run by Hurts of 21 yards early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers would eventually lose the game 10-0. “Jalen Hurts is like a running back, back there.” said defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence about Hurts. “We got to stop the run. That’s any game, but really important to this game. Because you let Jalen Hurts loose back there, and you’ve got a long game. So you got to keep it simple.” This will be the third start against the Tigers for Hurts.

Hurts is aided in the passing game by junior CeeDee Lamb, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, and talented receiver that has big play ability to break a game wide open at any moment. The speedy receiver averages nearly 21 yards per catch and has 14 touchdowns on the season. Watch for Lamb to be matched up against LSU All-American freshman corner Derek Stingley Jr. Stingley led the SEC in interceptions this year with six, more on that in a bit.

This Oklahoma offense, just like every other Sooners offense of the Lincoln Riley era, has looked explosive and seems to find ways to put points on the board when needed. But it is also the same team that needed an overtime to beat Baylor in the Big 12 title game, and a loss by Utah in the Pac-12 championship. When the chips fell though, they are back in the playoffs for the fourth time in six years of the playoff system.

Oklahoma’s defense has become sneakily better than last seasons. Going from the 114th ranked in 2018 to the 25th overall this season. However, when we breakdown a major factor in the defense for the Sooners it is scoring defense. Oklahoma is giving up 24.5 points a game coming into this contest against the Tigers. That does not bode well for the Sooners, as the last opponent LSU faced, UGA, was giving up less than half that at 10.4 points a game. On top of that, it has been confirmed that defensive end Ronnie Perkins will be out for the game. The sophomore leads the Sooners with six sacks and is second on the team with 13.5 tackles for loss. Also out for the game is safety Delarrin Turner-Yell due to an apparent broken collar bone.

The Tigers are not looking at those missing individuals as advantages though. They know all about the “next man up” mentality. “We don’t even factor that in, you know, say hey, this is going to be an advantage.” stated Orgeron “It’s not going to be an advantage, uh-uh. We’re going, and again, it’s never about our opponent. It’s always about us and the way we execute.”

On offense for LSU:

Senior quarterback Joe Burrow: Heisman Trophy winner; Walter Camp Award winner; Maxwell Award winner; Davey O’Brien Award winner; Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner; AP POTY, SEC POTY, First Team All- American, and First Team All-SEC.

Sophomore wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase: Biletnikoff Award winner, First Team All-American, First Team All-SEC

Jr. C Lloyd Cushenberry, 1st Team All-SEC, Sr. G Damien Lewis, 2nd Team All-SEC, Sr. G Adrian Magee, 2nd Team All-SEC, Jr. T Saahdiq Charles, Jr. T Austin Deculus: Joe Moore Award winners (best OL unit)

 Junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Charles McClendon Award winner (LSU MVP), Paul Hornung finalist, Doak Walker semifinalist, 1st Team All-SEC RB, 2nd Team All-SEC Returner

Passing game coordinator Joe Brady: Broyles Award winner (top assistant in college football) Coach Brady also stated that “Steve Ensminger deserves half of this award”

Although junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is listed as day-to-day, due to non-contact injury sustained in practice. Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger said Tuesday morning “I do believe we will have Clyde” and clarified that with “that’s just my opinion.” Edwards-Helaire has been a versatile player in the Tigers offense, and matchup nightmare to scheme against. As of this writing, Edwards-Helaire was still being held out of practice on Tuesday afternoon for precautionary measures.

Defensively the Tigers have one of the best secondary groups in the country. Boasting the Jim Thorpe Award winner in Grant Delpit for best defensive back in college football. All-American freshman Derek Stingley Jr., who led the SEC in interceptions with six, and ranks him fifth nationally. The Tigers also rank No. 1 in interceptions in the SEC with 16 on the season. That number puts them at 6th respectively when ranked in the nation.

While Derek Stingley will most likely be matched up one on one with CeeDee Lamb, the defensive line and outside linebackers for the Tigers will be tasked with defending the legs off quarterback of Jalen Hurts. “Obviously, with this team, you’ve got to tackle,” Tigers Head Coach Ed Orgeron said during a Monday press conference. “You’ve got to tackle one-on-one and in space. You’ve got to tackle Jalen. You’ve got to cover CeeDee, and if you do cover them, you’ve got to tackle them. So, it’s going to come down to winning your one-on-ones as a tackler.”

Expect both quarterbacks to make plays with their legs in this game. However, with the suspension of their biggest pass rush threat and the injury to the leading tackler in the defensive backfield. I don’t see the Sooners holding up very long past halftime. The line on this game has already moved from 8 originally to 11 earlier this week to now 13, most likely from Tiger fans betting heavily on LSU.

LSU 43 – OU 30