(CBS Local)- This year’s College Football Playoff features a first-time entrant to the field that also could be its best team. Ed Oregeron’s LSU Tigers have rolled through this season undefeated (13-0) behind a newly explosive offense triggered by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Their opponent in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl is no stranger to these types of games, as Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners return for the third consecutive year.
While the Sooners have experience, it hasn’t been a good experience so far. They have lost in both CFP appearances, first to Georgia in the Rose Bowl in 2018, then to Alabama in the Orange Bowl last year. So finding themselves in a matchup with another SEC team in a Playoff situation is not likely their ideal scenario. But, there is an added layer of experience for the Sooners as well, which Sportsline’s “Wizard of Odds” Kenny White, explains.
“I’m sure Oklahoma will take that experience and use that to their advantage. Also Jalen Hurts, their quarterback, it’s going to be his fourth straight year to the College Football Playoff. He kind of knows what it is about,” said White.
Hurts didn’t play in last year’s Playoff, but he did appear for Alabama in both 2017 and 2018 before losing the job to Tua Tagovailoa in the second half of the championship game against Georgia. It’s likely he wants to wipe away the memories of that performance, but that could be tough to do against this Tigers team. While LSU has shown some vulnerability to running quarterbacks at times this year, they still allow just 3.6 yards per carry and 120.3 yards per game on the ground. As a whole, the unit has given up a paltry 4.9 yards per play this season.
Still, there is a chance the experience plays in the Sooners’ favor. Furthermore, with this game being played at a neutral site in Atlanta, White points out that the Sooners have been better in “road” games this year than the Tigers.
“I took both teams road numbers and broke them down. Oklahoma out-gains their opponents by 178 yards per game on the road, where, this year, LSU only out-gained their opponents by 98 yards per game,” said White. “This is a pretty balanced football game these teams are pretty good both offensively and defensively.”
While the Oklahoma defense has been markedly improved this season, (5.1 YPP/24.5 PPG), they haven’t seen an offense this season that is as explosive as LSU’s. Joe Burrow has completed a hair under 78 percent of his passes at 10.7 yards per attempt with 48 touchdowns. The duo of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase on the outside has been lethal, making the matchup with the Sooners’ secondary one to watch.
Also of note, there are three Sooners players facing a possible suspension in wide receiver Trejan Bridges, running back Rhamondre Stevenson and defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins. Perkins is the biggest potential loss of the group as a key part of the defensive line group. The sophomore racked up 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks this season, so losing him would take away some of the havoc that the Sooners have been able to create in the backfield. Going up against an LSU offensive line that were recently named winners of the Joe Moore Award, the Sooners need every bit of havoc they can get.
But, all of that said, Kenny is rolling with the points.
“I’ll tell you Katie, betting double-digit dogs blindly in the bowl games has revealed a nice treasure chest here,” said White. “Twenty-five units, double-digit dogs are 47-20 covering the spread. Seventy percent of the time they cover. I’ll take that 14 points all day long with the Oklahoma Sooners.”
Vegas has the Tigers listed as 13-13.5 point favorites as of this writing. Kick-off for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl is set for Saturday, December 28th at 4:00 p.m. EST.