By Stan Awtrey
The LSU Tigers are headed back to Atlanta to play for the second time this month, this time to meet the Oklahoma Sooners in the College Football Playoff semifinal hosted by Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
No. 1 LSU (13-0) will play No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1) on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 4 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Tigers moved up a notch to the top of the rankings this week after they routed Georgia 37-10 in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday in Atlanta. In winning its 12th SEC title, the Tigers earned their fifth victory this season over a top-10 ranked team.
LSU will be making its seventh appearance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, most recently in 2012. It will be the Tigers’ first trip to the College Football Playoffs.
Oklahoma moved into the playoffs after defeating Baylor 30-23 in overtime to win the Big 12 Championship for the fourth straight season. The Sooners began the final weekend ranked No. 6, but moved up when No. 4 Georgia lost to LSU and No. 5 Utah lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game.
This will be Oklahoma’s third straight season to appear to the semifinal and fourth overall. The Sooners have never advanced to the final. Oklahoma will be playing in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for the first time.
It will be the second time the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has hosted a semifinal game; Alabama beat Washington 24-7 in 2016. It hosted the national championship game in 2018 when Alabama defeated Georgia in overtime.
LSU features quarterback Joe Burrow, the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and Ja’Marr Chase, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award that’s given to the nation’s top receiver, and safety Grant Delpit, a finalist for the Thorpe Award given the nation’s best defensive back.
“Very proud of our football team,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “In the spring I could see them coming together. They were starting in the first season with this spread offense and having Joe run it, then having (passing game coordinator) Joe Brady here and to see the evolution of the spread offense, which our fans have been wanting for a long time. Then to get the No. 1 player in the country (Burrow) sitting right here.”
Oklahoma is led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, who transferred in after a successful career at Alabama, receiver CeeDee Lamb, also a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, and linebacker Kenneth Murray, a finalist for the Bednarik and Butkus Awards.
“Winning championships is hard and winning is not easy,” Hurts said. “The mental toughness of this team and how we go about our business each day, just putting emphasis on focus, energy, passion, kind of monumental aspects of our team. We embrace it all and we attack.”
Oklahoma and LSU have meet only twice, both times in the Sugar Bowl. LSU won the most recent meeting 21-14 in 2003. Oklahoma scored a 35-0 victory in 1949.