ATLANTA — No. 1 LSU takes on No. 4 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl today with a berth into the College Football Playoff National Championship game on the line. So how can the Tigers punch their tickets to the title game? RP3 & Company provided four keys to victory earlier on Saturday’s RP3 Peach Bowl Preview show. Here is a brief recap.
Early Burrow Throws
How should LSU establish dominance early on? Let their Heisman Memorial Trophy-winning quarterback, who threw for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns, attack Oklahoma’s secondary. Even though the Sooners are improved on defense, they have not faced an offense like the Tigers.
A couple of deep passes from Burrow to Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’MMarr Chase (1,498 yards, 18 TD) will put the Oklahoma defense on its heels and give the Tigers an early advantage.
Contain Jalen Hurts
The former Alabama starting quarterback proved that he is far more than just a runner this season for Oklahoma. Hurts threw for 3,634 yards with 32 touchdowns and completed 71.8 percent of his passes. Hurts though was even more dominant on the ground as he rushed for 1,255 yards, scoring 18 touchdowns and averaging 5.7 yards per game.
LSU’s linebackers must prevent Hurts from getting to the second level of the defense. Hurts’ ability with his legs allows Oklahoma to extend drives so LSU has to force him to beat them with his arm.
LSU’s offense is led by its high-powered passing attack but the Tigers can seal a victory today with running the ball efficiently in the second half. Whether it is Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who is dealing with a hamstring injury) or the young running back trio of Tyrion Davis-Price (270 yards, 6 TD), John Emery Jr. (182 yards, 3 TD) and Chris Curry (99 yards, 0 TD), LSU will need to run the ball in the second half. Putting together clock-eating drives, featuring run after run, will allow LSU to take away possessions, and much needed time, from Oklahoma which will make it difficult for the Sooners to to mount a comeback.
Make Them Pay
Oklahoma has a high-powered offense of its own but the Sooners are also mistake prone. The offense has thrown eight interceptions and lost 10 fumbles. In addition, OU has committed 93 penalties for 976 yards this season for a healthy average of 75 penalty yards per game. It is not a question of if Oklahoma commits miscues but when. That means LSU will need to take full advantage of those mistakes every single time — whether that is filling a turnover into points or not bailing OU out with dumb penalties of their own.
Matchup To Watch
Oklahoma Center Creed Humphrey vs. LSU defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin
Humphrey is considered one of the best interior offensive lineman in the country and is key to not only protecting Hurts but also paving the way for many of the Heisman runner-up’s inside runs. Shelvin meanwhile has been the most consistent defenders, and best run stuffer, that LSU has had all season. Whoever wins that one-on-one matchup will go a long way in determining Saturday’s victor.
Oklahoma’s offense will present LSU’s defense some problems. Hurts will be able to lead the Sooners on multiple touchdown drives, All-American wide receiver CeeDee Lamb will have a big game and Oklahoma will continue its steak of 51 games of scoring 28 points or more. All of that won’t be enough. Oklahoma with its injuries and suspensions on defense will be simply outmanned for LSU’s record-setting offense. The Tigers get it done, win the game and cover the spread.
LSU 45, Oklahoma 31