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No. 1 LSU advances to New Orleans title game with Peach Bowl pounding of No. 4 OU

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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.

Halfway home: Joe Burrow’s record seven TDs gives LSU a massive halftime lead over OU

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Joe Burrow has been at his absolute best through the first half of the Peach Bowl, and we’ve yet to find a team that can hang with No. 1 LSU when that’s the case. Thirty minutes in, we know it’s not Oklahoma. The Heisman Trophy winner threw for 403 yards and an LSU and a College Football Playoff single-game record seven touchdowns as the Bayou Bengals lead No. 4 Oklahoma, 49-14.

The route started from the very first snap.

Oklahoma 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 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 a 19-yard touchdown to Justin Jefferson. 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.

Burrow closed the half 21-of-27 for 403 yards with his record seven scores. LSU also ran 13 times for 94 yards (out-rushing OU by 35 yards, on five fewer carries), giving the Tigers a grand total of 497 first-half yards on 40 snaps.

But wait, there’s more: LSU will get the ball to open the second half.

No. 9 OU wins another nail biter, clinches 11th Big 12 Championship trip for its troubles

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It all started so easy for No. 9 Oklahoma. The Sooners scored on their first three possessions, moving 52, 65 and 81 yards to do so. Jalen Hurts kept from seven yards out for OU’s first score, found Brayden Willis from 20 yards out for their second, and then hit CeeDee Lamb from five for the third. That last touchdown gave Oklahoma a 52-3 run dating back to the second quarter of last week’s Baylor comeback.

And then the Sooners did the best they could to give it away.

It started when Max Duggan, who’d led TCU to all of minus-3 yards of total offense to that point, darted through the Sooner defense for a 62-yard run, taking the ball from his own 32-yard line to OU’s 6. Sewo Olonilua plunged in from 1-yard out two plays later to put the Frogs on the board. Then, a team that has struggled to hold on to the ball saw those struggles continue for another week when Sooner receiver Jadon Haselwood coughed up a fumble at the TCU 45, sparking a 48-yard Frogs drive that resulted in a 24-yard Jonathan Song field goal.

The score remained 21-10 at the half when Lincoln Riley elected to go for a 4th-and-3 at the TCU 42 to open the second half, but Garrett Wallow blew that decision up by corralling Hurts for a loss of nine. Taking over at the OU 49, Duggan led another scoring drive, hitting Darius Anderson for 15 yards, running for seven and then running for an 11-yard score, pulling the Frogs within 21-17 at the 10:15 mark of the third quarter.

Having been shutout on four straight drives, Oklahoma turned to the ground game, running six straight plays for 66 yards, as Hurts’ 8-yard touchdown stopped the bleeding. Momentarily.

After at TCU punt, Oklahoma moved from its own 8 to the TCU 7 — 85 yards, almost exclusively on the ground — but gave that yardage up and then some when Hurts threw for Lamb on 3rd-and-5 but instead hit TCU’s Vernon Scott, who picked up a convoy of Frogs and raced the ball 98 yards for a touchdown, turning a potential 35-17 game to 28-24 with 12:43 to play.

Oklahoma then took the ball, re-committed to the run game and again moved to the TCU 7 as Hurts charged 32 yards, but TCU’s Nook Bradford simply ripped the ball from Hurts’ arm in a play that has to be seen to be believed.

Given the chance to take the lead, TCU did nothing with it — the Frogs went three-and-out and punted on 4th-and-10.

But that just led to another Oklahoma turnover, this one on downs. On a 4th-and-1 from TCU’s 41, Rhamondre Stevenson charged forward but was stuffed for no gain, and TCU took over with a chance to take the lead and 3:16 to do it.

Duggan overshot Jalen Reagor on 1st-and-10, but the Frogs drew a pass interference flag for their trouble, moving them into Sooner territory. They went no further. Duggan threw incomplete on 3rd-and-6 from the OU 40, then threw late and was intercepted by Brendan Radley-Hiles with 1:41 to play.

The offense expired the remaining 101 seconds — though not without a controversial review that gave Hurts a first down on a 3rd-and-1 carry — and a Sooner team that, as the past four weeks have shown us, can not be put away or put anyone else away escaped with a 28-24 win.

Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) has now clinched a rematch with No. 14 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship, the program’s 11th trip all time and third straight since the game was revived in 2017. The Sooners have actually reached the last four title games, dating back to 2010. While Baylor will make its maiden voyage to the title game, OU is 9-1 in such games.

TCU, meanwhile, will need to beat West Virginia on Friday to avoid missing a bowl game for just the third time in 19 seasons under Gary Patterson. Duggan completed only 7-of-21 passes for 65 yards and an interception, but he led the Frogs on the ground with 92 yards on 12 carries.

Though their national-best 20-game streak of at least 30 points came to an end, the Sooners still rolled up OU-type numbers, as Hurts threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 173 and two, though he committed one turnover in the air and on the ground. Kennedy Brooks also rushed 25 times for 149 yards.

No. 9 Oklahoma builds halftime cushion over TCU

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It’s shaping up to be quite the night in Norman. Texas face-planted in Waco, Oregon is struggling to beat Arizona State, and the home team is his winning, but the visitors are lurking. At the break, No. 9 Oklahoma leads TCU 21-10.

The Sooners scored on their first three possessions, moving 52, 65 and 81 yards to do so. Jalen Hurts kept from seven yards out for OU’s first score, found Brayden Willis from 20 yards out for their second, and then hit CeeDee Lamb from five for the third.

After a three-and-out at the 10:05 mark of the second quarter, breaking a streak of six straight scoring drives dating back to last week’s comeback over Baylor, OU gave TCU a window back into the game and the Frogs climbed through it.

Having moved backward three yards on their first three possessions, TCU finally found an opening through quarterback Max Duggan‘s legs, darting 62 yards from his own 32-yard line to the OU 6. Sewo Olonilua plunged in two plays later to pull TCU within 21-7 and then, after Jadon Haselwood fumbled, TCU moved 48 yards in eight plays to pull within 21-10 on a 24-yard Jonathan Song boot.

Oklahoma punted on its final chance of the half, following three straight touchdowns with three straight empty possessions. Hurts went 8-of-14 for 99 yards with two touchdowns while rushing 11 times for 64 yards and a score, while Kennedy Brooks carried 10 times for 68 yards.

Duggan was just 4-of-10 for 36 yards through the air, but his 62-yard burst gave him a game-high 71 yards on seven carries.

Oklahoma will receive to open the second half.

Future Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz sets two passing records in All-American Bowl to win MVP

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Wisconsin fans likely will be smiling knowing their quarterback of the future just set a record in the All-American Bowl. Graham Mertz set two of them, actually, on his way to winning MVP honors as the East dominated the West in this year’s All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Mertz threw for 188 yards and five touchdowns to show Wisconsin fans what they should expect to see soon in Madison.

Mertz, a four-star pro-style quarterback from Kansas, was a big addition to the Wisconsin recruiting class and it was easy to see why on Saturday in San Antonio. The 188 passing yards and five touchdowns in an all-star game that typically sees the ball spread around between some of the nation’s top recruits, and quarterbacks tending to split the snaps was a mighty feat. Of course, it helps when Mertz is throwing the football to other four and five-star players.

A number of players made their college announcements during the course of the game as well. USC scored a big recruiting victory with the addition of five-star wide athlete Bru McCoy and four-star wide receiver Kyle Ford. It was a solid day for Oklahoma as well with the addition of five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood to the recruiting class in Norman.

Purdue scored a great recruiting victory as well by landing the commitment of wide receiver David Bell, who will pair quite well with Rondale Moore in the passing game moving forward for the next couple of years. Bell picked the Boilermakers over Ohio State and Penn State as Purdue struck gold with this recruiting battle. Naturally, the day featured a stud defensive lineman, Khris Bogle, choosing to go to Alabama