(Submitted Photo/Dominique Thomas)
(Submitted Photo/Brandon Harden)
LSU, Oklahoma to meet in CFP semifinal Saturday
The nation’s two best offenses will compete on the field Saturday in one College Football Playoff semifinal as No. 1 LSU meets No. 4 Oklahoma in Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
LSU (13-0 overall, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) is ranked in the top three nationally in total offense (No. 1 at 554.4 yards per game), passing offense (No. 2 at 386.8 yards per game) and scoring offense (No. 3 at 47.8 points per game).
Meanwhile, Oklahoma (12-1 overall, 8-1 in the Big 12 Conference) is ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense, averaging 554.2 yards per game, and is ranked No. 6 in scoring offense, averaging 43.2 points per contest.
For LSU, the Tigers have earned considerable hardware due to their success on the field, none bigger than senior quarterback Joe Burrow winning the Heisman Trophy.
In addition to earning first-team All-American honors from five different entities, Burrow also won the Davey O’Brien Award, took home the Maxwell Award and was named both the AP National Player of the Year and the Walter Camp National Player of the Year. He also is a finalist for the Manning Award.
This season, Burrow has completed 342 of 439 passes for 4,715 yards with 48 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is ranked No. 1 nationally in passing touchdowns and is ranked No. 2 in passing yards.
Additionally, Burrow has rushed 96 times for 469 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who was on the receiving end of plenty of Burrow’s passes, won the Biletnikoff Award. This season, Chase, who was named first-team All-American by five different entities, leads LSU with 73 catches for 1,498 yards and 18 touchdowns. His receiving touchdowns rank No. 1 nationally, while his receiving yards are ranked No. 2 nationwide.
LSU’s offensive line won the Joe Moore Award, too.
Defensively, LSU junior safety Grant Delpit won the Thorpe Award. This season, Delpit has recorded 56 tackles (32 solo and 24 assists). He has three tackles for loss (including one sack), two interceptions, six pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one fumble recovery. Delpit was named an All-American by four entities, earning first-team honors from three of the entities.
Postseason awards were not limited to players, either, as head coach Ed Orgeron was named the 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, the Home Depot National Coach of the Year, the AP National Coach of the Year and the SEC Coach of the Year.
Also, passing game coordinator Joe Brady won the Broyles Award.
In addition to Chase, other top LSU receivers this season are junior Justin Jefferson and sophomore Terrace Marshall Jr. Jefferson has caught 88 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Marshall has collected 37 catches for 545 yards and 10 scores.
Jefferson is tied for fourth nationally in receiving touchdowns and is ranked No. 9 in receiving yards.
In the run game, LSU is averaging 167.5 yards per contest.
However, a status of a big component of that run game, first-team All-SEC running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, is unknown for Saturday’s game as Helaire is battling an injury, according to The Baton Rouge Advocate.
Helaire is the team’s leading rusher with 197 carries for 1,290 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Freshman running back Tyrion Davis-Price has rushed 60 times for 276 yards and six touchdowns.
LSU’s offense also features one more All-American selection as junior offensive lineman Lloyd Cushenberry III earned second-team honors from both the Football Writers Association of America as well as the American Football Coaches Association.
In addition to Delpit, freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is another standout for the Tigers’ defense.
Stingley has earned All-American honors from five different entities, including first-team honors from three of those entities.
This season, Stingley has recorded the following stat line: 34 tackles (29 solo and five assists), one tackle for loss, six interceptions and 15 pass breakups. He leads the team in interceptions and pass breakups. Nationally, Stingley is tied for No. 5 in interceptions.
Sophomore linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson earned first-team All-SEC Coaches honors this season. Chaisson leads the Tigers with 11.5 tackles for loss.
The Tigers’ leading tackler is junior linebacker Jacob Phillips, who has recorded 97 tackles (45 solo and 52 assists). His other stats are as follows: seven tackles for loss, one sack, one pass breakup, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Junior safety Jacoby Stevens leads LSU with five sacks.
As a group, LSU is surrendering 21.2 points per contest and 341.3 yards per game.
Locally, the Tigers have two connections to the Tri-City Area as Central Catholic graduate Cade Minton is an offensive student assistant while Patterson alum Austin Harden is a freshman offensive lineman.
On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma is led by senior quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
This season, Hurts has completed 222 of 309 passes for 3,634 yards with 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Hurts also is the team’s leading rusher as he has carried the ball 219 times for 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Hurts is tied for No. 8 nationally in rushing touchdowns and is tied for No. 9 in FBS with 19 total touchdowns.
The quarterback was named a second-team All-American by the Sporting News, and he received third-team All-American recognition by the Associated Press. Hurts also is a finalist for the Manning Award, while he and junior wide receiver CeeDee Lamb are finalists for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.
Lamb, Oklahoma’s leading receiver, earned All-American status from five different entities, including first-team recognition by four of those entities.
This season, Lamb has caught 58 passes for 1,208 yards with 14 touchdowns. He is tied for fourth nationally in receiving touchdowns and is ranked No. 8 in FBS in receiving yards.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Charleston Rambo also has 42 receptions for 734 yards and five touchdowns for Oklahoma, while redshirt sophomore running back Kennedy Brooks has contributed 976 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 145 carries to the run game.
Offensively, the Sooners are averaging 303 passing yards a game and 241.2 rushing yards per contest.
Oklahoma also boasts a standout redshirt sophomore center, Creed Humphrey, who has received second-team All-American recognition from four different entities.
Defensively, Oklahoma is surrendering 24.5 points per game and is giving up 330.6 yards of offense per game.
Junior linebacker Kenneth Murray leads the defense with 95 tackles (65 solo and 30 assists). His other stats are as follows: 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups and five quarterback hurries.
Murry has earned second-team All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association, and he has picked up third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press.
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Neville Gallimore also has earned third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press. This season, Gallimore has recorded the following stat line: 27 tackles (18 solo and nine assists), 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass breakup, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Sophomore defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins leads the team with six sacks, while redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jalen Redmond has 5.5 sacks.
Sophomore defensive back Brendan Radley-Hines is tops on the team with two interceptions, while senior cornerback Parnell Motley and redshirt sophomore cornerback Trey Brown each have 11 pass breakups to lead the squad. Motley leads the team with four fumble recoveries.