When and where: December 28, 2019, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA, 4:00 PM ET
Atlanta officials should consider keeping the roof open to help contain the excitement at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) take on the LSU Tigers (13-0) in the Peach Bowl. A battle featuring two of the nation’s top-scoring offenses will decide who moves on to face the winner of Clemson and Ohio State for the National Championship.
Leading Heisman candidate Joe Burrow’s spectacular season has him pegged as the best quarterback in the nation. Yet, Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts has the edge in experience with so many big games under his belt from his tenure with Alabama. Imagine the Cinderella story if he’s able to upend the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. Stories will be altered for eternity, and new legends will be born on December 28.
Story for the ages for the SoonersJalen Hurts was standing on the opposite sideline as a backup quarterback to Tua Tagovailoa when the Sooners met up with Alabama in the Orange Bowl a year ago. He watched as the Crimson Tide rolled over the Sooners and broke their hearts on the biggest stage. Fast forward to the present and Hurts is now the starter in a Sooners uniform, and his heart is intertwined with the same players he helped the Crimson Tide compete against.
Hurts, a Heisman candidate, has waited for his moment to prove he’s his own man. He has waited for an opportunity to show that Alabama made a mistake in choosing Tagovailoa over him. Both of those moments could be realized if he defeats LSU in the Peach Bowl.
The Sooners are 12-1 on the season with their lone loss coming to Kansas State. They finished the season with the impressive back-to-back wins over ranked opponents in Baylor and Oklahoma State.
There is no question the crux of their success has been the high-flying offense. Hurts has thrown for 3,634 yards, 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions for the No. 2-ranked offense in the country. The Sooners are averaging a ridiculous 554.2 yards and 47.8 points per game.
That number could obviously take a steep dip when faced with LSU’s overbearing defense. It’s the same defense that shutdown Georgia and Texas A&M to close out the regular season. Yet, the greatest conundrum for the Sooners will be slowing down Burrow and an LSU offense that is humming.
“Obviously, LSU is tough to stop,” Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley said, via Sooners Wire. “They’ve done a great job all year. Joe Burrow’s had a great run, obviously played extremely well at the quarterback position. A lot of dynamic playmakers on the outside. And from what I’ve been able to see so far, their offensive line has done a great job as well.”
The Tigers have the No. 1-ranked offense in the country, and they haven’t shown any signs of slowing down throughout the season. Oklahoma’s defense is in a better spot than it was a year ago, but they’d need a special effort to close the curtains on the Joe Burrow Show.
Defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles is officially listed as questionable for the game. The has also lost third wheel runner Trey Sermon for the season, along with linebacker Jon-Michael Terry.
Burrow and the Tigers must finish the jobJoe Burrow could ensure he’s the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft by driving the stake into Oklahoma’s heart and moving on to win the National Championship. There is no scenario where anything less would suffice after the amazing journey he’s been on this season. He has thrown for 4,715 yards, 48 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Those are video game numbers for a quarterback at any level.
The Tigers are undefeated on the season with signature wins over Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Texas. None of those teams had the kryptonite for Burrow’s otherworldly arm and speed at processing information.
He’ll be facing a much-improved Oklahoma defense that ranks 24th in the nation with opponents averaging 330.6 total yards per game against them. They have also given up an average of 132.1 rushing yards per game, setting the stage for a big night for LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The ability to run the ball on offense might take precedent over the much-anticipated receiving battle between Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase.
It could come down between the legs of Edwards and Hurts.
Oklahoma’s quarterback is their leading rusher on the season with 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns. Slowing down the Sooners’ offense will be coach Ed Orgeron’s greatest challenge since facing Alabama.
“Obviously, we’ve played against him before,” said Orgeron He’s an outstanding player, and he actually beat us with his feet. He made big plays with his feet, and he threw the ball very well. I haven’t watched him at all this year, but I have watched Coach Riley’s offense, especially that counter read. I’ve asked him about it. I think they’re one of the best in the country in running what they do on offense. They’re very difficult to stop.”
The Tigers have the 24th-ranked rushing defense with opponents averaging 119.6 yards per game against them, but they haven’t met a quarterback with the same slipperiness in the pocket as Hurts. There is the potential for him to wreck everything if he gets going.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Sooners are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- Sooners are 1-5 ATS against a team with a winning record.
- Sooners are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Sooners are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as a favorite.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
- Tigers are 7-2 ATS against a team with a winning record.