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Peach Bowl 2019: Schedule, Top Storylines to Follow in Oklahoma vs. LSU

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 25, 2019

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) runs for a touchdown against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

The LSU Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners have experienced less-than-ideal buildups to the Peach Bowl. 

LSU comes into the College Football Playoff with an injury concern surrounding one of its top offensive stars. 

Oklahoma is dealing with suspensions to three players, one of whom has been important to its defensive success. 

Ed Orgeron's side is the overwhelming favorite for the matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and if it takes advantage of Oklahoma's absences, it may cruise into the National Championship. 

                 

Peach Bowl Information

Date: Saturday, December 28

Start Time: 4 p.m. ET 

TV: ESPN 

Odds (via Caesars): LSU (-13.5); Over/Under: 76.5

            

Top Storylines to Follow

How LSU Manages Edwards-Helaire's Health

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 07: Clyde Edwards-Helaire #22 of the LSU Tigers carries the ball in the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire did not practice Tuesday and is listed as questionable for the Peach Bowl. 

According to The Advocate's Brooks Kubena, Tigers offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger believes the team's leading rusher will be ready Saturday. 

"I do believe we will have Clyde. That's my opinion," Ensminger said. 

Even if the 1,290-yard rusher participates in Atlanta, he may be limited by the hamstring injury he is dealing with. 

That could force the Tigers to call on Tyrion Davis-Price, Chris Curry or John Emery to earn some carries, but all of them have 1,000 yards fewer than Edwards-Helaire. 

In fact, quarterback Joe Burrow is LSU's second-best rusher with 289 yards on 96 carries, which is 36 more than Davis-Price has earned. 

Edwards-Helaire is also the SEC champion's fifth-best receiver, and since October 26, the junior has at least four receptions in every game. 

He had nine receptions for 77 yards in the victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide and delivered seven catches for 61 yards in the SEC Championship Game. 

If the injury limits his ability to get out of the backfield, Burrow could call on Thaddeus Moss and Racey McMath among others to take over the production beneath Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr. 

However, if Edwards-Helaire is close to, or at, full strength by kickoff, LSU could tear apart Oklahoma's passing defense that allows 198.5 yards per game.

Between the three top receivers and Edwards-Helaire, Burrow may have enough targets to overwhelm the Sooners and secure a spot in the title game in New Orleans. 

           

Can Oklahoma's Pass Rush Affect Burrow? 

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 07: Gerry Bohanon #11 of the Baylor Bears passes the ball over Neville Gallimore #90 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the second quarter of the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

One of Oklahoma's three suspended players is sack leader Ronnie Perkins, who has six take downs to go along with 38 tackles. 

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson and wide receiver Trejan Bridges will also miss the Peach Bowl, but Perkins is the most significant absence. 

Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley told reporters Tuesday he is confident in the defensive line replacements, per Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World. 

"I'm confident in the players that we have and the staff that we have that we'll have a group out there that's ready to play and a scheme that will give us a great chance to play well," Riley said. 

Jalen Redmond and Neville Gallimore combined for 9.5 sacks, but they may receive more attention from LSU's offensive line. 

If that is the case, other linemen have to put Burrow under pressure to keep him from working into a rhythm early, like he did versus the Georgia Bulldogs. 

The Heisman Trophy winner has been sacked 28 times, and he was brought down on multiple occasions in six of the previous seven games. 

If the Big 12 champion pressures the LSU quarterback, there is a chance it forces short possessions and keeps the Tigers offense on the sidelines. 

But if the Sooners fail to advance into the pocket, Burrow may have his way with the Sooners secondary and cruise to LSU's fifth straight double-digit victory. 

                    

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com

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