Kneauxing the Enemy
The FBS College Football Playoffs
Conference: Big 12
Record 12-1, 9-1 in conference, Big 12 Champions
Down to Four
Oklahoma is second in the land in total offense, second only to the Purple and Gold. The Sooners average 554.2 yards a contest in total offense, two tenths of a point behind the Tigers. They average 8.2 yards per play, 6.1 on the ground, and 11.4 through the air.
The Sooners average 251 yards per game on the ground and 303 yards per contest passing the ball. They are fifth in the land in scoring offense, with 43.2 yards per contest. They have 36 passing touchdowns and 34 rushing touchdowns for the season.
Oklahoma has appeared in the last three college football playoffs with three different quarterbacks. Two years ago it was Baker Mayfield, last year Tyler Murray, and this year Jalen Hurts. All of them were transfers from other programs. So, there is some type of offensive system in place in Sooner land.
Additionally, the Sooners have piled up gaudy offensive stats despite losing 80 percent of their offensive line from last year. Sophomore center, and Rimington award nominee, Creed Humphrey, is the lone starter from the 2018 season. Oklahoma has four sophomores, guards Tyrese Robinson, Marquise Hayes, tackle Adrian Ealy, along with Humphrey, and one junior on the offensive line. Although the four other players did not start last year, they, along with Humphrey, are redshirts. So, they have spent time in the Oklahoma system, which may explain the reason why replacing the line was not a problem this year for the Sooners.
Hurts, of course, is no stranger to Tiger fans, from his time at Alabama. He is the leading rusher for the 2019 Sooners with 1,255 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns. He averages 96.5 rushing yards per game. The graduate senior has thrown for over 3,000 yards and rushed for over 1000 yards this season. Hurts leads the nation, averaging 16.4 yards per pass completion. He has thrown 32 touchdown passes with seven interceptions. He has completed 71 percent of his passes. Hurts has was the leading rusher and passer for the Sooners in seven of their 13 games this year.
Junior CeeDee Lamb is a favorite target of Hurts. Lamb is second in the nation in yards per reception, averaging 20.8 for the season. He has 14 touchdown receptions for the year with 1208 yards receiving. Nine of the top ten Sooner receivers average double figures per catch.
The second leading rusher on the team is sophomore Kennedy Brooks, who has rushed for 976 yards this year, averaging 6.7 per carry. Brooks has rushed for five touchdowns this season. Sophomore runningback Rhamondre Stevenson has been suspended for the Peach Bowl playoff game.
The Sooners also have what is called an H-back position. This position is like a combination fullback and tight end, and they are effective receivers. Two sophomores, Brayden Willis and Jeremiah Hall, average 16.5 and 11 yards per catch respectively at this position.
Last season Oklahoma was one of the worst defensive teams in college football. This year they are not good, but they are drastically improved. One important defensive player will be missing from this game. Sophomore defensive end Ronnie Perkins is suspended for the contest. Sophomore Delarrin Turner-Yell is doubtful with a broken collarbone. Turner-Yell is the second leader tackler on the team with 75, 60 unassisted. Perkins led the team in sacks with six. He also had 13.5 tackles for losses (tfls).
Note: Oklahoma, like LSU, is a team full of high school All Americans. So, the loss of a player does not necessarily mean a tremendous drop off in talent at that position.
There are other good players on the Oklahoma defense. Junior linebacker Kenneth Murray leads the team in tackles with 95, 65 unassisted, and 16 tfls and four sacks.
Senior noseguard Neville Gallimore has 7.5 tfls and four sacks for the season. Redshirt freshman defensive end Jalen Redmond has 9.5 tfls and 5.5 sacks, and he is listed as second on the depth chart at the position.
The Sooners average 7.8 tfls per game, tops in the Big 12 and 12th in the country.
However, tfls do not have the same impact on an opponent which passes frequently.
Oklahoma allows 199 yards passing per game, the same amount as Georgia, who LSU beat in the SEC Championship game, and 16 more than Alabama, who the Tigers beat earlier. However, the figure is nine yards better than Auburn, who arguably played the Purple and Gold better defensively than any other team this season.
The Sooners were also the most penalized team in the Big 12, averaging 75 yards per game in infractions.
Oklahoma has the best field goal kicker in the country in freshman Gabe Brkic. He has made all 17 of his field goals, the longest from 50 yards.
These two teams have potent offenses. It appears neither team's defense is good enough to completely stifle its opponents offense. The winner will be determined by which team's defense slows the opponent's offense down just enough to be victorious. Hopefully the Purple and Gold will be the last team standing.