The College Football Playoff semifinals begin in the Peach Bowl with the Oklahoma Sooners taking on the LSU Tigers. Let’s get it on. Saturday at 4 pm ET, No. 4 Oklahoma will square off against No. 1 LSU to decide who will play in the national championship game against either Clemson or Ohio State.
This game is set to be played in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As these two powerhouses come off their respective conference championships, this is what they look forward to, moving on to the national championship.
This is certain to be an interesting matchup, especially offensively for both teams. LSU is led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, while Oklahoma is led by the Heisman runner-up, Jalen Hurts. LSU’s offense led college football, averaging 554.3 yards per game, and ranked third in points per game, with 47.8.
Oklahoma finished second in total yards per game, averaging 554.2, and fifth with 43.2 points per game. LSU is favored in this one by 13.5 points, while the over/under is set at 75.
Sooner Than Later
Lincoln Riley has certainly made his impact felt since arriving as head coach of Oklahoma. Riley has won 12 games in all three seasons at the helm; unfortunately, he’s also lost in the bowl game that’s followed in the past two seasons. Riley will look for that elusive 13th victory on Saturday, and hopefully the 14th a week later.
Oklahoma will be short-handed in the game, as Rhamondre Stevenson, Trejan Bridges, and Ronnie Perkins have been confirmed as suspended for the game. Riley wouldn’t further comment on why the trio wouldn’t play.
Perkins will be a huge loss, as he leads the team with six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Stevenson has over 600 total yards on the season, including 64 carries for 515 yards. Bridges has been great on special teams and has played a key role in all 13 games.
Hurts has his work cut out for him in this one, but when you complete 72 percent of your passes and have a guy like CeeDee Lamb to target, I’m guessing he isn’t too worried. Lamb has 1,228 yards and 15 scores on the season.
While head coach Ed Orgeron’s resumé may not be as well-kept as Riley’s, it still looks fantastic on paper. After a year as the Tigers’ defensive line coach, Orgeron took the reins in 2016, and he’s 38-9 as the Tigers head coach. He’s also 2-1 in bowl appearances.
This is Orgeron’s first undefeated season and his first SEC championship. Orgeron looks to make his first national championship appearance and victory in the next couple of weeks.
Led by Burrow, the LSU offense is explosive, to say the least. Burrow has thrown for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns while completing 78 percent of his passes and has been head and shoulders above the nation’s top quarterbacks.
Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson have combined for 2,700 yards from Burrow this season, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire can run it down your throat when the passing game isn’t clicking, though the junior is questionable for this game with a hamstring injury. Oklahoma’s defense will need to be at its best to keep this a game.
On paper, this looks to be an LSU blowout, but the 13.5-point spread should be noted. That’s a pretty wide margin for any two teams playing in the Playoff. LSU is 8-5 against the spread this season, while Oklahoma is only 5-8.
The magic number in this matchup is the ranking of the passing defense that Burrow has to face Saturday, 18th. Oklahoma ranks 18th in the nation against the pass, allowing only 192.7 yards per game, including only 167.3 over the last three games.
Regardless of who moves into the championship, the pick here is for the Sooners to keep it close and cover the +13.5. Take LSU if you’re betting straight up, but Oklahoma all day against the spread.
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