Four times in LSU’s football history have the Tigers played for a national championship. All four happened to be in New Orleans. Make it five.
Joe Burrow needed only 29 minutes to set LSU and College Football Playoff records with seven touchdowns and scored a bowl game record eight total touchdowns, leading No. 1 LSU to a 63-28 Peach Bowl victory over No. 4 Oklahoma and sending the Bengals back to the Bayou to face No. 2 Ohio State or No. 3 Clemson.
Burrow finished the day 29-of-39 for 493 yards and seven touchdowns, while adding 22 yards and a score on the ground. The bulk of his damage went to Justin Jefferson, who hauled in 14 catches for 227 yards and four touchdowns.
The route started from the very first snap.
Oklahoma (12-2) took the ball to start the game, and on 1st and 10 the Sooners went max protect, yet K’Lavon Chaisson sacked Jalen Hurts anyway. Kennedy Brooks ran the ball on second and third down; both carries lost a yard.
After a 25-yard Reeves Mundschau punt gave LSU (14-0) the ball at Oklahoma’s 42-yard line, Burrow went right to work: a 16-yard strike to Thaddeus Moss, a 7-yarder to Terrace Marshall, Jr., and then the first of Jefferson’s four money grabs, a 19-yarder. Pat Fields wrapped Jefferson up at the 5 but the receiver willed the ball into the end zone, giving LSU a 7-0 lead at the 12:03 mark of the first quarter.
Oklahoma’s next possession went better than its first, in relative terms: Mundschau punted on 4th-and-11, not 4th-and-17. CeeDee Lamb false started before the first down snap, Brooks rushed for four yards on 1st-and-15, and Hurts’s first two passes were not close to being complete. However, the Sooner defense forced a three-and-out of its own, and then the Sooner offense arrived. A 12-yard Hurts keeper gave Oklahoma its first first down, and two plays later he found Lamb for a 51-yard bomb to the LSU 3. Brooks tied the game one play later.
It didn’t remain tied long. LSU knifed 75 yards in nine plays, converting the only third down they faced with a thunderous 14-yard Clyde Edwards-Helaire run, then finding the end zone on an 8-yard toss to Marshall, putting LSU back in front 14-7 with 4:24 remaining in the opening frame.
LSU’s defense then forced its third three-and-out in four tries, with some major assistance from the zebras. On a 3rd-and-10 pass toward the Oklahoma sideline, LSU’s Derek Stingley, Jr., all but tackled receiver Jadon Haselwood, yet the officiating crew — apparently the same group that reffed the 2019 NFC Championship — kept their flags in their pockets, despite the protests of the Sooner sideline and every viewer with working eyeballs.
Still, LSU took over at its own 14 after the punt, then converted a 3rd-and-2 when, evading a rush, Burrow rainbowed a 24-yard connection to Marshall, who was pushed out of bounds but, after a review, was deemed eligible to catch the pass. Chris Curry, garnering the start at running back in Edwards-Helaire’s place, charged for 19 yards after the review, then Jefferson dropped a 1st-and-10 pass from the OU 35. He did not drop the next one, a 35-yard strike that marked Burrow’s third touchdown pass of the first quarter and his 51st of the season, giving LSU a 21-7 lead with 1:16 still to play in the first quarter. The Heisman winner threw for 166 yards in the frame, firing as many touchdowns as incompletions (with one drop) over his 14 attempts.
After Oklahoma’s fourth punt of the first 16 minutes, LSU converted a 3rd-and-10 through an all-time bonehead play by Sooner safety Brendan Radley-Hiles, who elected to lay a blindside hit on Edwards-Helaire, allowing Burrow to scramble for the conversion while Radley-Hiles got himself ejected from the game for targeting. Two plays later, Burrow found Jefferson matched up on Radley-Hiles’ replacement, freshman Woodi Washington (who had his redshirt burned thanks to Radley-Hiles), and exploited that mismatch to the tune of a 42-yard touchdown pass, giving LSU a 28-7 lead at the 12:13 mark of the second quarter. That strike pushed Burrow’s numbers to 12-of-18 for 204 yards and all four scores, with six connections to Jefferson to the tune of 136 yards and three scores.
Hurts, meanwhile, was 1-of-9 for three yards outside of the 51-yard strike to Lamb. It would soon get worse. Oklahoma tried a trick play where Hurts tossed to Lamb, who tossed back to Hurts and looked downfield for Nick Basquine, but Kary Vincent, Jr., intercepted the throw. Oklahoma forced LSU into a 3rd-and-18, but that just allowed Biletnikoff Award winner J’Marr Chase to join the game with a 22-yard conversion, taking the ball to the OU 30. And then: Burrow to Jefferson, for a fourth time. This 30-yard score put LSU up 35-7 with 9:17 still left before halftime, and pushed Burrow to 291 yards on 17-of-23 passing, while Jefferson had nine grabs for 186 yards.
Oklahoma responded with a vintage OU drive: 75 yards over 10 plays, scoring on a 2-yard Hurts keeper.
That score pulled the Sooners to within 35-14, but it also sent Burrow and company back on the field. After a 13-yard Curry run, Burrow found a streaking Moss for a 62-yard touchdown. The score, with 4:18 still left in the first half: LSU 42, OU 14, Burrow 353 and six.
After another OU three-and-out and Mundschau’s fifth punt (his season high is six), LSU went 63 yards in five plays, pushing the lead to 49-14 and pushing Burrow over the top with school and Playoff single-game records with his seventh touchdown (a 2-yarder to Marshall), which he needed only 29:10 to break.
As if that wasn’t enough, LSU got the ball to open the second half and scored yet again. This time, the Tigers needed 13 plays and nearly five minutes to march the necessary 75 yards, converting a 4th-and-2 at the OU 17 with a 5-yard Chase run, and then scoring on a 3-yard Burrow sneak, punctuating his record-setting day with his eighth touchdown to put LSU up by 42 points.
The Heisman winner finished 29-of-39 for 493 yards and seven touchdowns while running five times for 22 yards and a score.
Oklahoma responded with two Hurts runs to cap 75- and 71-yard drives, as the Heisman runner-up passed Jack Mildren for OU’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,298).
Myles Brennan came in to relieve Burrow after the second of those two scores and led a touchdown drive of his own. He hit all three of his passes for 39 yards, and freshman running back John Emery, Jr. put the Tigers over the 60-point mark. LSU finished the day with 693 yards, the most in a College Football Playoff game.