College Football Playoff

(4) Oklahoma Sooners at (1) LSU Tigers 

Oklahoma: I’d say it’s a nice time to be an Oklahoma Sooner fan. The last few years have been special. In the first year of the Lincoln Riley experience, Baker Mayfield put together a season to remember in 2017. He wins the Heisman Trophy; he goes on to the next level to be selected first overall by the Cleveland Browns. Last season, a kid named Kyler Murray comes to Norman. He becomes an electrifying player in the nation, gets invited to New York for the Heisman and wins it. Just like the guy he replaced; he ends up being the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. What would be in store this year? Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts used his final year of eligibility to transfer to Norman. He’s kept this offense afloat. The tandem of Hurts and wide receiver CeeDee have become one of the best tandems in the country. It’s always a rewarding feeling when a quarterback has that guy, he can depend on to make a play for him. Was there ever a doubt that the Sooners wouldn’t win the Big-12? It was them in a class by themselves with all the others lined up outside the room. I’ve often found myself referring to Oklahoma as the “Kansas City Chiefs of college football”, I can explain. Just like KC, the Sooners are dominant offensively but struggle to get off the field at times on defense. The one thing I will say though is they’ve improved under defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch. I see a better effort all around. Once again, they’ll try to advance to New Orleans for the national championship game.

LSU: Just when you think they can’t be scarier, here they are. The big question in the final weeks of the regular season was who was more deserving of the number one spot if the playoffs were to begin then? Was it the Ohio State Buckeyes or the LSU Tigers? I’ve said all year that the Tigers have the best resume in the country. Five wins over opponents who were all ranked in the top ten speaks volumes. Let’s recap. The first was in Austin in week two against a then-ninth ranked Texas Longhorns. The second was at Death Valley against the Auburn Tigers who were ranked ninth at the time. Next, a win against a seventh ranked Florida Gators team. The most impressive was against the Alabama Crimson Tide who were ranked third. It was also in Tuscaloosa. A place they haven’t won since 2011. On December 7th, they dismantled the Georgia Bulldogs, the fourth ranked team in the country. The committee got this right. After the SEC Championship, what I took away was how quickly they start without letting up. Joe Burrow had another day at the office throwing for four touchdown passes. I’ll admit I was concerned about their defense because as I’ve said all season long, they’ve been unable to consistently rush the passer. They looked scary against Georgia. They held that offense to just ten points. This has been a fun group to watch this year. They’ll look to advance to their first championship game since the 2011-12 season.

Oklahoma Player to Watch: Kennedy Brooks– He’s the hidden piece of this Sooners offense people forget about. Kennedy isn’t the quickest, but he does more than enough to move around the defender as a running back. He shows great patience and awareness, the two most important attributes for a running back to have. To throw off the Tigers defense, I look for Oklahoma to establish number 26 early.

LSU Player to Watch: Clyde Edwards-Helaire: I became a bigger fan of his after his game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s small, yet powerful. Those are the toughest running backs to take down if you’re a defensive player. Besides his running, he’s also an additional receiver for Burrow. When his playmakers are locked up down the field, Joe knows he can check it down to Clyde. He’s a more elusive Maurice Jones-Drew.

Final Analysis: So, who will be the first team to punch their ticket to New Orleans? We’ll find out in this one. I’m really intrigued by this quarterback matchup. Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow have been two of the best in the nation this year. It’ll be fun to see these two compete against one another. These are two of the best offenses in college football. I could see this game being like Georgia and Oklahoma a few years back. A ton of points! Oklahoma must try to keep Burrow contained in the pocket. His mobility is a hidden gem of his game. Look what he did to Georgia! Keeping him in that pocket will be a top priority for Alex Grinch. Both teams will aggressively run the football to keep the other team’s offense on the sideline. There’s some wide receiver talent in this game. Oklahoma has a stud in CeeDee Lamb and LSU has a future star in Justin Jefferson. Here’s to postseason football!

Prediction: LSU 41 Oklahoma 24

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