College Football Playoff Preview: Oklahoma

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Oklahoma comes into the College Football playoff as the lowest ranked team out of the four Playoff bound teams, but that does not mean they should be written right off.  Oklahoma is lead by Jalen Hurts, the Alabama transfer who has been there, done that before.
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As a freshman at Alabama, Jalen Hurts took over the starting quarterback job from Blake Barnett and quietly lead Alabama to the National Championship game.  While Alabama only lost by four (35-31) to Clemson in the game, Hurts had a rough go throwing for only 131 yards and completing only 41 percent of his passes.

The next season is where "tides" began to turn.  As a sophomore, Hurts lead the Crimson Tide to a 13-1 record and a rematch with Clemson.  This time, however, in the Sugar Bowl in the College Football Playoff Semi-Finals.  Hurts and the Tide got their revenge by stomping the Clemson Tigers 24-6 in a game which saw Hurts take home the offensive MVP honors.  The Tide then took on SEC foe the Bulldogs of Georgia in the National Championship, in which Hurts got benched at halftime for Tua Tagovailoa.  Tua lead 'Bama on a roaring comeback, allowing Hurts to win his first National Championship, albeit from the sidelines.
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Hurts culminated his tenure at Alabama after being the backup all of the 2018 season, coming in for an injured Tua in the SEC Championship game, this time being the one to lead Alabama to a comeback victory vaulting Alabama back into the National Championship.

Fast forwarding to now, long after his transfer from the Crimson Tide to the Sooners of Oklahoma, Hurts finds himself back in the College Football playoff after putting up the best numbers of his career in Lincoln Riley's offense.  Hurts has thrown for over 3000 yards, and has added another 983 on the ground, and a total of 43 touchdowns.  All numbers good enough to make Hurts a Heisman finalist, which would clearly be won by Joe Burrow of LSU.  Exactly who Oklahoma will be facing off against in the Peach Bowl for a trip to the National Championship.

As if Oklahoma needed any other disadvantageous to the powerhouse that is LSU this season, the Sooners are going to be short handed.  Three players will not be on the field come Saturday night; Defensive end Ronnie Perkins, running back Rhamondre Stevenson, and wide receiver Trejan Bridges.  While not confirmed, rumors have swirled the suspensions are due to failed drug tests.  Perkins is arguably the best player on a bad defense.  On the season, he has six sacks and 38 tackles, 13 of which have been for a loss.  Perkins is a phenomenal run stopper, and even with Heisman winning quarterback Joe Burrow throwing for LSU, they may lean on their running game just a bit more to take advantage of that.

Rhamondre Stevenson will also be greatly missed.  While he is the backup, he has compiled over 500 yards and six scores.  With LSU's offense being as off the charts as it is, Oklahoma leaning on their run game far more than usual seemed like a great tactic to keep Joe Burrow and his star wideouts on the sideline.  That will be a lot harder to do with the loss of Stevenson.

At the end of the day, pound for pound, and if both teams had all their players on the field, LSU is still the better team.  Joe Burrow didn't win the Heisman for no reason, and his receiving core of Ja'marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Derrick Dillon is arguably the best in the country.  On the defensive side, this is not your daddy's LSU team, as they have given up 38 points to Texas, 38 to Vanderbilt, 41 to Bama, and another 37 to Ole Miss.  That makes 30, if not 40 points within reach for this Lincoln Riley lead Oklahoma offense.

Oklahoma will make this a game for two quarters, but my gut tells me LSU pulls away in the second half.  As good as LSU's wide receivers are, the Sooners have the best individual wide receiver on the field in CeeDee Lamb.  Lamb is a legit NFL ready wide receiver and leaves little doubt that he will be first receiver off the board in April's draft.  Hurts and Lamb will only be able to do so much though.  LSU will get some stops here and there, but there is a damn good chance Oklahoma never makes a single stop.  And I mean that.  If offense is your thing then this is the game for you.

Final Prediction: LSU Tigers 48 - Oklahoma 34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: College Football Playoff Preview: Oklahoma
College Football Playoff Preview: Oklahoma
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