Peach Bowl 2019: Factors That Will Decide Oklahoma vs. LSU Playoff

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (24) intercepts the ball from Georgia wide receiver George Pickens (1) during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The LSU Tigers have been a much better defensive side recently.

The unit that conceded 20 points or more to four ranked opponents silenced the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game. 

Ed Orgeron's side will be tasked with shutting down a more explosive offense in the Peach Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners. 

If the secondary takes away CeeDee Lamb as a deep threat, LSU could roll to a double-digit victory. 

Another way it can achieve that type of result is controlling the line of scrimmage against an Oklahoma defensive line that enters Mercedes-Benz Stadium short-handed. 


Factors That Will Decide Peach Bowl

LSU's Secondary Play 

John Amis/Associated Press

LSU's defensive backs enter December 28 off one of their best performances of the campaign.

In the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers held Jake Fromm to 225 passing yards and one touchdown, and they intercepted the Georgia junior twice. 

One week prior to earning the conference crown, LSU contained Texas A&M's Kellen Mond to 92 passing yards in a 50-7 victory. 

Heisman Trophy finalist Jalen Hurts poses a more difficult challenge, as he ranks sixth in the FBS in passing yards and 10th in passing touchdowns. On six occasions, the Alabama transfer has combined with Lamb for over 100 yards. 

Between Derek Stingley Jr., Kristian Fulton, Kary Vincent and Grant Delpit, LSU should have enough manpower to silence Oklahoma's top receiver. Stingley and Fulton combined for 27 passes defended and seven interceptions, with the former earning two picks versus Georgia. Stingley, Vincent, Delpit and JaCoby Stevens, who all have multiple picks, accounted for 14 of LSU's 16 interceptions. 

If one or two of the defensive backs smother Lamb in coverage, it will force Hurts to beat the Tigers with one receiver who has more than 20 receptions in Charleston Rambo. 

Even if the Oklahoma wideout earns a handful of receptions, the Tigers could limit his big-play potential and make it harder for Oklahoma to march down the field. 

As long as the top seed contains Lamb, who has the third-most receiving scores in the FBS, it should avoid an upset threat from the Big 12 champion.


Oklahoma's Pass Rush 

Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

One of the few flaws of Joe Burrow's record-setting campaign has been the 28 sacks he suffered. 

Fourteen of the takedowns occurred in matchups with Top 25 foes, including the concession of five to the Alabama Crimson Tide. 

Oklahoma has a quartet of players with four or more sacks, but its leader in that category will be out December 28.

Ronnie Perkins, who has six sacks and 38 tackles, is one of three Sooners expected to miss the trip to Atlanta because of a failed drug test, per The Athletic's Jason Kersey. 

Although Lincoln Riley's side will be at a disadvantage, it still has Jalen Redmond, Neville Gallimore and Kenneth Murray to put Burrow under duress. 

If the Sooners' pass rush can make the Heisman Trophy winner uncomfortable, they may be able to stick in the contest. 

However, if Oklahoma is affected by Perkins' absence and can't find a path to the pocket, Burrow could put up a similar performance to his 349-yard, four-score outing versus Georgia. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.