By Michael Kinney
ATLANTA– DaShaun White has heard all the talk. Just like the rest of his Oklahoma squad, the sophomore linebacker knows exactly what the majority of the college football nation thinks of them.
The fourth-ranked Sooners have heard they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs and that the other three schools are in a different league than OU, who is making its third straight trip to the finals.
But for White, all the talk is just fuel to the Sooner’s fire.
“We’re used to that to be honest. It obviously caused a little bit of motivation” White said. “It’s one of those things where two teams showed up and have to play a football game and one of them wins.”
Oklahoma will face No. 1 LSU Saturday in the first semifinal of the College Football Playoffs. The nightcap with feature No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson.
According to many, the Tigers got the much easier route to the championship game because they get to face a Sooners’ squad that has one loss on the season and doesn’t carry the same respect nationwide that the teams do.
“It’s definitely something we take into account,” OU linebacker Nik Bonnito said. “It’s obviously hard not to see all the noise that has been going around. But we’re just going to be doing what we’ve been doing this whole season. Doing our job and playing Oklahoma football.”
LSU may have added to the notches on the disrespect card during Thursday’s media session. Linebacker Patrick Queen decided not to go the politically correct route, like most players. He told the media what he really thought of Oklahoma’s offense.
“The o-line is not great, the backs are not great. But they still make it work. Jalen Hurts is a great quarterback and CeeDee Lamb is a great wide receiver. I feel like if we get the ball out of Jalen’s hands and make other people make plays, I feel like with this game plan we’ve got, we are going to dominate them. I feel very confident in what we’ve got.”
LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase was even less impressed with the Oklahoma defense.
“I see a lot of fast guys,” Chase said. “A couple of them have tight hips, but some of them are slow, too. I think we’ll have good match-ups all around. We just want them to feel our speed coming up the field. That’s how we get open.”
Chase didn’t mince words when evaluating OU senior cornerback Parnell Motley.
“Nothing stands out about him too much,” Chase said. “I watch him. I see he’s—I don’t know if he’s that long. I don’t really know how tall he is. I see he’s kind of fast. He’ll try to put [his] hands on somebody just a little bit, but I’m ready for it. I want him to put his hands on me.”
The Tiger’s Tyler Shelvin also sung a familiar song in his assessment of the Oklahoma’s “one-man” offense.
“We just have to learn how to stop Jalen (Hurts) and we’ll be fine,” Shelvin said.
Publicly, the Sooners saying all the right things. While they acknowledge hearing all the criticism and slights being levied at their team, they pretty much have decided to not let it get in their heads.
If the Sooners make out of the semifinals and into the title game for the first time in four attempts, then that will be all the response they need to give to those who doubted them, according to Neville Gallimore.
“The thing I love about this group is we don’t really get caught up in the outside noise. I’m not the kind of person that really cares what people say about me, good or bad,” senior DT, Neville Gallimore said. “I respect it. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But at the end of the day, I’ve still got a job, we’ve still got a job to do as a team, and it’s going to get done at a high level. I feel like there’s a reason why people can’t play this game or can’t survive because they’re caught up in what other people are telling them, good or bad. You’ve got to make your own judgment and listen to the right voices, and the right voices are our coaches and the guy next to us that’s grinding with us. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Kick-off for the Peach Bowl is set for 3 p.m. at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The winner moves on to the College Football Championship in two weeks.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider