LSU (13-0) VS. OKLAHOMA (12-1) 4 p.m. Saturday, ESPN Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
When LSU has the ball
Coaches like to talk about being aggressive offensively. That’s how Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and the Tigers play.
“Whether it’s by tempo or by play design, they maintain their aggressiveness from play one until the last play of the game,” Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead said.
The Tigers often have five receivers on the field, relying on their front five to pass protect and Burrow’s decisionmaking and mobility to avoid pressure. LSU’s top three wide receivers (AllAmerican Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr.) each have at least 10 touchdown catches. Versatile running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (50 catches and 1,290 yards rushing) is used frequently in the passing game as more than just an outlet. “Even when you include the tight end
(Thaddeus Moss), all their guys can win the one-on-one matchups,” Moorhead said.
Edwards-Helaire is nursing a hamstring injury and might not play. His versatility would be missed, though probably not as much as Oklahoma will miss defensive end Ronnie Perkins.
Perkins, who leads the Sooners in sacks with six, is reportedly suspended for the playoff.
“The key to their defense is really to get pressure with their front, the line movement and the twists and all the things they do,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said of the Sooners.
When Oklahoma has the ball
If fans expect a typical fast-paced Big 12 offense, the Sooners might surprise them.
“They are not a high-flying tempo offense. They are pro-style, substitute personnel groupings, call two plays, getting into the right play at the line. As a result they can limit possessions,” Rhule said. Oklahoma’s offenses under coach
Lincoln Riley have always been balanced and among the best in the country on the ground. With Heisman runner-up
Jalen Hurts, the quarterback is now the Sooners’ primary ball carrier. The powerful senior ran for 1,255 yards behind a huge offensive line. Kennedy Brooks is the top tailback. Injuries and suspensions have depleted the depth behind him. Expect a lot of Hurts and Brooks, setting up play-action passes to AllAmerica receiver CeeDee Lamb.
The Sooners don’t have much chance of holding down LSU’s offense without getting a bunch of turnovers. Slowing down the game might be OU’s best bet.
But LSU’s defense is healthier than it’s been all season and their big bodies up front (Glen Logan, Tyler Shelvin and
Rashard Lawrence all weigh over 300 pounds) are hard to move.
“They play the odd stack (three-down linemen), really kind of stuff up your interior gaps,” Moorhead said.
Ralph D. Russo’s pick Bowl history
LSU: Appearing in its 51st NCAA-sanctioned bowl game. This will be the Tigers’ seventh trip to the Peach Bowl, their last coming in 2012 when they lost to Clemson 25-24.
Oklahoma: The 53rd postseason game for the Sooners, but their first appearance in the Peach Bowl. How they got here ...
Aug. 31: Ga Southern, W55-3 Sept. 7: at Texas, W45-38 Sept. 14: Northwestern St., W65-14 Sept. 21: at Vanderbilt, W66-38 Oct. 5: Utah State, W42-6 Oct. 12: Florida, W42-28 Oct. 19: at Miss. St., W36-13 Oct. 26: Auburn, W23-20 Nov. 9: at Alabama, W46-41 Nov. 16: at Ole Miss, W58-37 Nov. 23: Arkansas, W56-20 Nov. 30: Texas A&M, W50-7 *Dec. 7: Georgia, W37-10 *SEC championship game
Sept. 1: Houston, W49-31 Sept. 7: South Dakota, W70-14 Sept. 14: at UCLA, W48-14 Sept. 28: Texas Tech, W55-16 Oct. 5: at Kansas, W45-20 Oct. 12: Texas, W34-27
Oct. 19: West Virginia, W52-14 Oct. 26: at Kansas State, L48-41 Nov. 9: Iowa State, 42-41 Nov. 16: at Baylor, W34-31
Nov. 23: TCU, W28-24 Nov. 30: at Oklahoma State, W34-16 *Dec. 7: Baylor, W30-23 (OT) *Big 12 championship game
Players to watch
QB Joe Burrow: 4,715 yards passing, SEC-record 48 TDs, 77.9 completion percentage.
WR Justin Jefferson: 88 receptions for 1,207 yards and 14 TDs.
RB Clyde EdwardsHelaire: 1,290 rushing yards and 16 TDs. Still iffy if he plays.
OKLAHOMA QB Jalen Hurts: 3,634 yards passing, 32 TDs, 71.8 completion percentage,
1,255 yards rushing, 18 TDs.
WR CeeDee Lamb: 58 receptions for 1,208 yards and 14 TDs.
RB Kennedy Brooks: 976 yards and five
Last time they played ...
LSU defeated Oklahoma 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS national championship (Jan. 4, 2004).
LSU by 13 1⁄2 | O/U 76
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts