ATLANTA – If there was any doubt that the LSU Tigers are on a mission to claim their first National Championship since 2007, then the 63-28 dismantling of the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday afternoon put to rest any inkling of apprehension on the part of the “Purple and Gold” nation.
How dominate was the win? The Tigers, behind the 29-39, seven touchdown aerial performance by Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow, broke or tied 14 bowl game/college football playoff records.
With the win, LSU is now one step away from claiming a title that has alluded the program for the past 11 years. The Tigers will now face No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers in the National Championship game on January 13 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Clemson, 14-0 on the season, took down Ohio State in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.
After the game, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron talked about his team’s performance against the Sooners.
“What a tremendous job. I thought we played -- for about three quarters, we played a complete game,” stated Orgeron. “Give Oklahoma credit. They have great athletes. Coach Riley is great coach, and they’ve had a lot of success. Coach Aranda had a tremendous game plan. The counter read, I haven’t seen anybody stop it. The key was Jalen Hurts not beating us with his feet. We did a great job with that.”
To that point, LSU held the Oklahoma quarterback, who had been terrorizing opponents with his feet, to just 43 net yards rushing on 14 carries. All told, the Tiger defense gave up only 322 total yards to the Sooners, with most of that coming with the game already decided.
Burrow, who set the record for total yards accounted for (515), talked about how the prep work before the game played into the success of the offense.
“(We knew we were going to be successful) the first series when we scored a touchdown,” said Burrow. “We go into every game thinking nobody can stop us. That’s the way we think.”
“We think we need to score every time we touch the ball,” he continued. “If we don’t, then we’re still kind of chasing that perfect game. It’s always something to get better at, and today was a lot of fun, but still room to improve.
Not only did LSU score on their very first drive of the game, but they also scored on the next six of seven drives in the first half. By the time the horn sounded for the teams to head into the locker room, the Tigers owned a 49-14 lead over Oklahoma.
The third quarter played out pretty much the way the first half did, as LSU took the opening drive of the second half and put up seven more points. The Sooners tacked on another touchdown mid-way through the period to trail 56-21.
The only offensive blemish in the second half for the Tigers came when Cade York missed a 46-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter. However, on the next LSU possession, back-up quarterback Myles Brennan led the Tigers 75 yards for the final points of the afternoon.
The biggest beneficiary of the high powered LSU offense Saturday was wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The 6’3” junior from Destrehan High School hauled in 14 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns, both College Football Playoff records.
“To have this receiving corps and have Joe throwing it to us kind of makes our job easier. All we have to do is catch the ball. Going and practicing every day, working with each other, being competitive, just being our normal self, just being goofy, just laughing all practice. That’s what we do,” stated Jefferson after the game.
Now, the Tigers must face a new challenge as they meet Clemson, the defending National Champions and winners of 29 in a row, for the right to hoist the championship trophy.
After the game, Orgeron addressed his team’s next step to the title.
“Great story. Obviously, it’s going to be a great day, going to be a purple and gold crowd in that Superdome. The state of Louisiana is going to be on fire,” Orgeron said.
“But all those things doesn’t win the football game for you. We have to prepare. We have to study. We have to be ready to play our best football game. So we’re going to prepare, whoever it may be.”