By Michael Kinney
ATLANTA– For weeks Oklahoma was told they had no chance. Facing No. 1 LSU, it seemed everyone gave the fourth-ranked Sooners no chance to topple the Tigers.
However, the Sooners said this year was going to be different. With it being the program’s fourth time making it to the College Football Playoffs, they expressed a belief that they could shock the world.
Unfortunately for OU, it was a different kind of shock that came out of Saturday’s game. Oklahoma loss 63-28 to LSU in the 2019 Peach Bowl to close out their season.
“I felt like if we played well, we would be able to stand in there and trade blows with them,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “I really did. And we did early. But when you start making mistakes, combination of that and a talented team playing well, they go on a run like they do.”
The 63 points the Sooners allowed set a new record for the Peach Bowl and the College Football Semifinals. It was also the most points the Sooners have allowed in a bowl game since giving up 55 to USC in 2005.
The offensive side was also setting low-light records for the program. Oklahoma accounted for only 322 total yards and 97 rushing yards. Both were a season-low for the No. 5 offense in the nation.
“Just talk about the missed opportunities we had, leaving money on the table, going out there and not taking advantage of every opportunity we have against teams like this,” quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “I mean, games like this, you’ve got to maximize it. We failed to do that.”
Three minutes into the contest LSU had scored and the Oklahoma offense looked in trouble. Throw in a special-teams gaffe and the start to the game almost couldn’t have gone any worse for the Sooners.
However, Oklahoma didn’t collapse. The defense came up with a stop to get the ball back. That set up a 51-yard pass from Hurts to CeeDee Lamb down to the three-yard line. Tailback Kennedy Brooks took it in from there on a short power run up the middle to tie the contest at 7-7.
However, the Tigers came right back and answered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow was able to pick apart an OU secondary that was playing 10 yards off the LSU receivers. That was especially true for Justin Jefferson, who broke seemingly every receiving record with his 227 yards and four touchdowns on the night.
After the Sooners were unable to score on their next drive, Burrows added another touchdown pass to Jefferson that put the Tigers up 21-7 with 1:16 left in the 1st quarter.
Oklahoma found itself down another defensive starter when safety Brendan Radley-Hiles was ejected from the game on a targeting call to start the second quarter.
“He’s got to be smarter,” senior Parnell Motley said of Radley-Hiles. “He’s a great player. I hope he thought it through and what happened. I can’t fault it him because I did something like that that hurt the team. But he has to keep his head up. He’s a young dude with a bright future ahead of him.”
Burrows made the Sooners pay when he and Jefferson connected again for a touchdown to push the lead to 21 points.
From there, the game just got out of hand. The defense couldn’t slow down Burrows and his deep receiving core. He finished the first half a College Football Playoff record 403 yards and seven touchdowns. (493 yards, 7 Tds for the game).
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, Hurts was unable to match him. His deficiencies as a passer were highlighted even more against an LSU defense that was forcing him to beat them with his arm.
The Tigers led 49-14 at halftime. Both teams just played out the string in the second half.
In what may have been his last game at Oklahoma, Lamb collected four catches for 119 yards. However, he was held out of and only caught three passes after the first quarter bomb.
Hurts finished the final game of his college career completing 15 of 31 passes for 217 yards. He also rushed 14 times for 43 yards and two scores.
However, Oklahoma needed Hurts to be more than that. They needed him to match Burrow, which he was unable to do.
“You talk about how much it means to you and the team. It’s supposed to hurt. This is not a good feeling,” Hurts said. “This is a feeling I’ve never felt before. It hurts me in my heart, you know. When I decided to come to this school, I told Coach Riley, I’m going to go win you a National Championship, and I failed to do that.”
Oklahoma closes out the season with a 12-2 record for the third consecutive season. It was also the third consecutive season their year came to an end at the hands of an SEC squad.
“We’re continuing to make strides. There’s no doubt about it,” Riley said. “I mean, just putting yourself here four times in five years is — I mean, that’s so hard to do, man. I mean, it’s so hard to do. So I think we’ve made some great improvements with the program. I’m excited about where we’re heading defensively. I think we’ve just scratched the surface about how good we can get on that side. This program has championship DNA. We kind of find a way, and we’ll be back.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider