The College Football Playoff gets started this year with the No. 1 LSU Tigers taking on the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in the Peach Bowl. The Tigers are currently listed as 13-point favorites with an ambitious over/under of 76 points.
The Sooners are in the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive year, this time with the distinction of being the only team of the four to suffer a loss this season. Oklahoma’s only loss was a shocker against a solid but unspectacular Kansas State team.
The Sooners also survived several close games down the stretch, including a nailbiter with Baylor in the Big 12 title game. Alas, Lincoln Riley’s team survived in overtime and gets another chance in the national semifinals after losing to SEC teams at this stage the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, LSU finally got over the proverbial hump this season. The Tigers survived challenging games against the likes of Texas, Florida, Auburn, and Alabama to finish the season 13-0.
Of course, the Bayou Bengals saved their best performance for last, obliterating Georgia in the SEC Championship Game 37-10 in the same stadium where they’ll now play the Peach Bowl.
After winning the Heisman Trophy, all eyes are on Joe Burrow to now lead LSU to a national championship. Burrow put together an inspiring season after posting rather modest numbers in his first year with the Tigers in 2018.
He ended up completing 78 percent of his passes, with 48 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. Of course. Burrow got plenty of help from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, an underrated part of the LSU offense.
Burrow and company will undoubtedly be a massive challenge for the Oklahoma defense. That side of the ball has held the Sooners back in the CFP the past two seasons. However, there have been signs of progress in the Sooners’ defense this year. We’ll find out for sure when they face LSU.
The Oklahoma front seven has played at a high level at various points this year, but the secondary still has some holes. The Sooners will also be playing the Peach Bowl without defensive Ronnie Perkins and safety Delarrin Turner-Yell, two huge losses.
The LSU defense will be facing a familiar foe in former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, who now leads the Oklahoma offense. Hurts has been utterly brilliant this season, playing far better with the Sooners than he ever did with at Alabama. With a little help from running back Kennedy Brooks and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma once again has one of the most potent offenses in the country.
Meanwhile, there are still lingering questions about how good the LSU defense is this year. The Tigers were dominant against Georgia in the SEC title game, but they were underwhelming for most of the season. Five of their 13 opponents scored at least 28 points against LSU, including non-bowl teams like Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. If the Tigers couldn’t slam the door on those teams, they could have trouble with the Oklahoma offense.
Don’t Count Us Out
Oklahoma’s experience in the CFP shouldn’t be overlooked. Even after falling behind Alabama 28-0 in last year’s semifinal, the Sooners came back to make it a competitive game. It’s a safe bet that the Oklahoma offense won’t be kept in check for 60 minutes.
The OU defense might surprise some people too. While LSU is likely to win, bet on Oklahoma to at least beat the 13-point spread.