Going into this game, anyone outside of the Oklahoma fan base is rating the Sooners chances somewhere between slim and none.
Everyone is talking about how great LSU is, and that Oklahoma has never seen anything like the offense they're getting ready to face in the Joe Burrow led Bayou Bengals.
The Oklahoma Sooners got in the playoffs in both 2017 and 2018, and arrived without anything resembling a dependable defense.
Under 1st year Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch, that Sooner defense has made more progress that many if not most Sooner fans thought possible in his first year.
While facing four Offenses in the top 20 and six in the top 50, (Texas Tech (11), Texas (15), Oklahoma State (16) & Iowa State (20) & Baylor (45))(Played Baylor twice) , the Sooner defense comes into the matchup with LSU ranked 24th in total Defense.
On the other hand, LSU has only seen two offenses in the top 20 and three in the top 50. (Alabama (7), Texas (15) and Ole Miss (29)), and they come in the game ranked 32nd in total Defense.
Much Ballyhooed matchups for LSU included Auburn (51st in total offense), Florida (53rd in total offense) and Georgia (60th in total offense). Against the three offenses they faced in the top 50, they surrendered 41 points to Alabama, 38 to Texas and 37 to Ole Miss for an average of 39 points.
The top offenses that Oklahoma faced, saw the Sooners surrendering 16 points to Texas Tech, 27 to Texas, 16 to Oklahoma State, 41 to Iowa State, 31 to Baylor the 1st time and 23 to Baylor in round two, for an average of 26 points per game.
I can say with utmost confidence if the Sooners don't turn the ball over against Texas, Iowa State & Baylor, the Sooners most likely yield 20 points or less to all of the above. Keep in mind that these are 6 of the top offenses in the country.
I can further hypothesize that if the Sooners don't have turnovers against Texas it's not close. K-State, you win by two scores. Iowa State not close. Baylor rds 1 and 2 not close as well as TCU not being much of a game either.
So a few main points from all of my rambling.
1. Oklahoma's defense is MUCH better than they get credit for.
Time after time in the middle of the season, and late in the year they were put in bad spots by the offense turning over the football.
2. LSU's defense isn't as good as they get credit for.
Defensively they haven't faced an offense worth a damn outside of Alabama, Texas and Ole Piss, and against those three opponents they gave up almost twice as many points as Oklahoma did while the Sooners faced far better offenses.
3. Against the same opponent, LSU should have gotten beat by Texas while Oklahoma looked flat out dominant against them. Take away two Jalen Hurts brain farts, and Oklahoma wins that game more like 51-17.
The biggest matchup that will go down in this game is the Sooner offense against the LSU defense. As we all know being Sooner fans, time after time we have seen Amazing offenses get shut down by good defenses in big games. 2003, 2008, 2017 & 2018. With that, if the Offensive line is healthy, plays well and the skill guys don't turn over the football, Oklahoma will be in this game until the bitter end.
Is Joe Burrow the best QB that the Sooners will have faced to this point? Yes
Is the LSU receiving corps the best that the Sooners will have faced to this point? Yes
Is LSU going to score points? Yes.
Still, don't be shocked if Oklahoma comes out and gets some stops against this LSU team. They're 77th in the country in sacks allowed. While their Offensive Tackles are really good, I'm not too impressed with the center and two guards. Oklahoma can create some negative plays against the tigers, and if they get them off the field a few times, they'll gain confidence.
Another thing that I noticed in watching all of this film of LSU, is none of the opponents they faced kept a player in the middle of the field to spy on Joe Burrow. That is a mistake. He has a lot of Baker Mayfield in his game, and he has made a ton of plays with his legs this season. While he's not going to break a Jamelle Holieway type home run, he has kept several drives alive, because nobody was home to keep an eye on him.
Offensively I have to rate their styles as very similar to Baylor with much better personnel. In game one Grinch didn't have anyone spy on Brewer, and got burned. In game two, Kenneth Murray was 007 & knocked him out of the game in the 2nd quarter.
I could ramble on and on and on about both teams but I'll leave you with my keys to the game.
1. Oklahoma cannot turn the football over and win this game. If they give LSU's offense more at bats, it'll be over early and it'll be bloody.
2. Oklahoma has to be able to run the football effectively with Brooks, Pledger and Hurts. It wouldn't shock me to see a fake reverse to Cee Dee Lamb and Pledger running down the sideline for a score.
3. Oklahoma cannot panic. They have had adversity all year long, and have fought through all of it to be here. No one believes they deserve to be here, so they just need to let it all hang out.
4. Riley needs to keep the reads very simple for Jalen Hurts. Shallow crosses, bootlegs, screens, and play action to tight ends & h-backs down the middle of the field.
5. In conjunction with point four, stay away from Stingley, the talented CB. He has made a living intercepting the ball on long passes. Instead attack the linebackers and other corner.
6. The Sooners need 5 sacks and two turnovers. If they're able to get off the field and then eat up the clock, they'll frustrate LSU's offense and put the tigers in a position that they haven't found themselves in this year.
7. The offensive line for the Sooners have to play the best game they've played this year. LSU will gear up to stop the run. The Sooners need to be physical and play their best game.
8. Finally, the Sooners best players need to rise to the occasion. Cee Dee Lamb, Jalen Hurts, Kennedy Brooks, Kenneth Murray, Caleb Kelly, Parnell Motley, Neville Gallimore & Jalen Redmond need show up and be forces to be reckoned with.
In closing, I think the Sooners can pull this off. Honestly I have a feeling that they will. They haven't played a complete game all year long in terms of great offense, great defense and no turnovers. The defense has gotten a turnover here and there, but they haven't had that trademark game where the turnovers come like an avalanche. It's gonna go one of two ways. It'll be a blowout for LSU or it'll be a close victory for the Sooners. I'm picking the Sooners to shock the world and win 41-35.