Peach Bowl 2019: Predictions for Top Prospects in Oklahoma vs. LSUDecember 26, 2019
Not only does the College Football Playoff determine the national champion, but the season-ending tournament is also a showcase for top NFL prospects against some of the best competition available.
On Saturday, at 4 p.m. ET, the No. 1 LSU Tigers will meet the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 Peach Bowl. While most attention is centered on which school wins the game, the draft community and NFL personnel will instead be focused on how those top players perform.
The premier talents are LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb, but the national semifinal will feature plenty of future pros.
LSU's Offense vs. Oklahoma's Defense
Did you watch the SEC Championship Game? If yes, enjoy this highlight of Burrow doing something outrageous. If no, well, this touchdown is absolutely outrageous.
It's no wonder he's consistently pegged as the No. 1 overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals, right? The 23-year-old should continue his excellent play against this Oklahoma secondary, which has allowed 20 touchdowns and managed just seven interceptions.
Burrow's favorite target is JaMarr Chase, but Justin Jefferson is the best draft-eligible receiver. He's caught a team-high 88 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Considering the pace at which this contest will likely be played, Burrow will likely surpass 350 yards with a couple of touchdowns with Jefferson around the 100-yard mark.
The LSU quarterback may have an even greater impact since running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire may be limited. He's considered day-to-day with a hamstring injury, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach.
Neville Gallimore is a quality pass-rusher from an interior spot, yet his impact may be limited. Burrow is a terrific scrambler, and the offense is designed to have him distribute the ball efficiently too.
Gallimore can still disrupt passing plays, but he's more likely to record a pressure or two with a few tackles in run defense.
The same should go for Kenneth Murray, whose aggressiveness is valuable in run support. His diligence in coverage will probably define the day. And while that may be overwhelmingly a positive, LSU has showed one mistake can be crushing.
Oklahoma's Offense vs. LSU's Defense
Since transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts has placed himself squarely on the scouting radar. Saying he's "reinvented" himself as a passer with Oklahoma is unfair, but the senior has showed significant improvements on downfield throws.
Granted, it helps to have Lamb.
A potential top-10 pick in the 2020 draft, he boasts a remarkable 20.8-yard average over 58 catches. He's racked up 1,208 yards and 14 scores. That explosiveness simply must appear for the Sooners to have a shot at an upset, though.
Lamb should crest the 100-yard barrier, but it might happen only after LSU has built a comfortable lead.
Hurts has struggled with turnovers recently, and LSU corners Kristian Fulton—a potential first-round pick in 2020—and star freshman Derek Stingley Jr. have proved extremely tough to beat this season. Lamb's ability to create after the catch on quick-hitting throws will be critical to OU's success.
If he breaks through, that's where it gets interesting.
Grant Delpit won the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, but it truthfully was more on reputation than performance. The junior safety will likely make a couple of mistakes as a tackler in space en route to finishing with six or seven total stops.
LSU edge-rusher K'Lavon Chaisson, who has a team-best 11.5 tackles for loss, is a part of preventing those chances anyway.
This version of the OU offense is a ground-first attack, so while Chaisson should tally a few tackles, his speed is key to containing Hurts' mobility on designed runs and scrambles.
The less LSU sees Hurts in open space, the more likely the Tigers are steering clear of an upset.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.