LSU: The Tigers got here with a Heisman-winning quarterback and a high-flying offense like we’ve never seen in Baton Rouge.
That’s a sufficient sentence to generalize the 2019 LSU season. But we’ll go a little deeper here. All offseason we heard about the offensive changes promised with the arrival of former New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady as the team’s passing game coordinator. But you wouldn’t be faulted in the slightest if you wanted to see those changes in action before you believed the talk.
Well, that talk wasn’t hyperbole. LSU averaged 48 points per game and scored over 40 points in each of its first six games of the season. The first time LSU failed to crack 40 came in a 36-13 win at Mississippi State on Oct. 19.
The lowest points output of the season was a 23-20 win over Auburn the next week. And after a week off the Tigers beat Alabama 46-41 in Tuscaloosa to show it was both for real and the best team in the country.
LSU didn’t step off the gas after that Alabama game either. Each of the next three wins over Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M featured at least 50 points. And the SEC championship game against Georgia was a 37-10 domination that cemented QB Joe Burrow’s status as the runaway Heisman winner.
Oklahoma’s offense was never going to match the heights that it did in 2018 when Kyler Murray threw for over 4,000 yards, rushed for over 1,000 yards with Kennedy Brooks and wide receivers Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb each had over 1,000 yards receiving as OU averaged nearly nine yards per play. But it was still really good in 2019.
Jalen Hurts has thrown for over 3,600 yards and rushed for over 1,200 while Brooks needs just 24 yards against LSU to crack 1,000 again. And Lamb has over 1,200 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns.
But an offense that averaged fewer than a turnover per game in 2018 is averaging nearly 1.5 a game in 2019. Those turnovers — coupled with a defense’s midseason inability to force them — are why Oklahoma lost at Kansas State and had to mount a big comeback to beat Baylor during the regular season.
The Sooners were derailed by their defense in 2018. The defense is a lot better this season. It gives up nine fewer points per game. But on Saturday it’ll be missing sack leader Ronnie Perkins because of a suspension and second-leading tackler Delarrin Turner-Yell because of injury. That’s two huge losses for a unit that still doesn’t have much margin for error. Especially against a fantastic offense.