Peach Bowl 2019: Individual Matchups to Watch in Oklahoma vs. LSU

Jake RillSenior Analyst IDecember 24, 2019

Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (2) carries during an NCAA college football game between Iowa State and Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

There weren't many more exciting potential matchups for this season's College Football Playoff than LSU-Oklahoma.

The Tigers and Sooners have the top two offenses in the nation this season, averaging 554.4 and 554.2 total yards, respectively. LSU's unit is led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, and Oklahoma has the runner-up for the award, quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The two teams will face off in Saturday's Peach Bowl, which takes place at 4 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and will air live on ESPN.

Here's a look at three key matchups in the game that could decide which team wins the Peach Bowl and advances to the CFP National Championship.


Top Individual Matchups

Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb vs. LSU CB Kristian Fulton

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

What's better than watching two likely first-round NFL draft talents going head-to-head on the field?

Lamb and Fulton are both going to be selected early in the draft in April, as both are poised to go on to have successful pro careers. But first, both players want to lead their respective team to a national title. And it should be fun watching these two talented standouts face off.

An explosive deep threat, Lamb has 58 receptions for 1,208 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, Fulton has an interception and 12 pass deflections, and he'd have even more impressive stats if opposing quarterbacks tried to challenge him more often.

However, it likely won't be just Fulton covering Lamb on some plays. Expect Tigers safety Grant Delpit, another likely first-round NFL draft pick, to join in on the coverage. And that may be tough for Lamb to overcome.


Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts vs. LSU defensive line

Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

There are some LSU players who are already quite aware of Hurts' playmaking ability. That's because the Oklahoma quarterback faced the Tigers twice during his three-year career at Alabama, where he played before transferring to the Sooners this year.

One of those players is LSU senior defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence, who discussed Hurts' impressive skill set during Monday's Peach Bowl press conferences in Atlanta.

"I think the biggest thing is he can sit back there and throw it," Lawrence said, according to Shea Dixon of 247Sports. "They’ve got a lot of different designed runs for him, but he’ll sit back there and throw it. It’s going to be tough with all the different things they can do. [...] Jalen, he can throw it, he can run it and he’s also the heart and soul of that team."

The Tigers' defensive line will try to limit what Hurts does with his feet. But a lot of teams have struggled to do that this season, as Hurts has rushed for 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns, both career highs. It will be a challenge for LSU.


LSU backfield vs. Oklahoma defensive line

Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

The Sooners will be missing one of their best front-seven players, while the Tigers could be without their starting running back. So, some unproven players may be filling in for this matchup.

LSU starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a hamstring injury last week in practice and his status for Saturday is unclear. If he can't play, the Tigers will likely rely on a pair of true freshmen, Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery, and redshirt freshman Chris Curry.

On the other side, Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins is suspended for Saturday's game. He leads the Sooners with six sacks and has 38 tackles and a forced fumble. But he won't be making plays in the Peach Bowl, so Oklahoma will need other defensive linemen to step up.

"We've got some quality depth behind and we're able to, when a great player's out for whatever reason, you're able to plug the leak and kind of keep on churning," Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley said during his Monday press conference. "LSU's been able to do that at running back from what we've been able to see, and we've been able to do that at certainly multiple positions this year, too."

Whichever team's fill-ins perform better will likely win this matchup between the two units.