Another record-breaking chapter was added to the Book of Burrow at the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who had already won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Trophy, Walter Camp Award and was a consensus All-America, continued to pad his resume. His performance against Oklahoma in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium may have been his best yet – even though he didn’t think so.
The senior threw for 493 yards and seven touchdowns – both College Football Playoff records – and ran for another score to lead the No. 1 Tigers to a 63-28 win over No. 4 Oklahoma in the College Football Semifinal.
Not bad for a guy who said, “To be honest, it wasn’t my sharpest game. I’m excited to get back to practice and tune those things up. That’s the kind of team we have. “
LSU will play for the national championship on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. LSU improved to 13-0 – or “13 and Eaux” as one sign proclaimed. Oklahoma finished 11-2.
As far as records, Burrow said, “Jan. 13 is the record we’re worried about.”
Burrow completed 29 of 39 passes and led the Tigers to touchdowns on eight of their first nine drives. He made it look easy on the first possession when he capped a three-play, 42-yard scoring drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson.
Jefferson, a junior receiver, enjoyed his own record afternoon. Working out of the slot, Jefferson caught 14 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns. The 14 receptions set a CFP Semifinal record and matched an all-time bowl record. His 24 points set a Peach Bowl record and ties the record for New Year’s Six and CFP Semifinal games.
“When someone is hot, why not keep going to them,” Jefferson said. “So Joe kept finding me on the field, just making those big plays.”
Nine different LSU players caught passes. Terrace Marshall Jr. caught six passes, two for touchdowns, and Thaddeus Moss caught four passes, one for a touchdown.
“(Jefferson) had four touchdowns in the first half and it’s funny, I told him, ‘Hey, can you spread some of the wealth?” Moss said. “And on the next drive I scored.”
The offensive success was made possible by a line that lost right guard Damien Lewis with a lower body injury in the first quarter. Burrow was sacked only once – that in the third quarter – and didn’t suffer a hurry all day.
The offensive line, voted the best in the country, made it easy for tailback Chris Curry. He was starting in place of leading rusher Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was able to work through a hamstring injury and make himself available. Curry ran hard – carrying 16 times for 89 yards – and enabled Edwards-Helaire to take most of the day off and virtually ensure he would be at full strength for the national championship game.
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, the runner-up in the Heisman voting, could not keep pace with Burrow. He was sacked on the first play, setting a tone for the afternoon, and he finished 15-for-31 for
217 yards. But he was sacked twice — both by K’Lavon Chaisson, the defensive player of the game — and threw an interception. Hurts was limited to 43 yards rushing on 14 carries and scored twice.
“The key was Jalen Hurts not beating us with his feet,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
Hurts accepted a lot of the blame for the loss, which left the Sooners 0-for-4 in CFP Semifinals. Hurts transferred to Oklahoma after helping Alabama reach the national championship game the last two seasons. His came up short in his mission to help the Sooners get a ring.
“It hurts me in my heart, you know,” Hurts said. “When I decided to come to this school, I told coach (Lincoln) Riley, I’m going to go win you a national championship and I failed to do that.”
After LSU’s quick score, the Sooners tied the game on a 3-yard run by Brooks Kennedy with 7:34 left. But the Tigers responded with four unanswered touchdowns and went on to lead 49-14 at the half.
“LSU is a good team,” Riley said. “They’re a good enough team that you’re going to trade blows with them no matter what. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes at the end of the first quarter, second quarter, that we haven’t make, some all year. And you can’t give a team like that any help.”
A major mistake was Oklahoma’s Brendan Radley-Hiles was ejected for targeting early in the second quarter. Radley-Hiles had been starting at nickel back, but had been given a crash course at strong safety when Delarrin Turner-Yell was lost with an injury in the Big 12 Championship game.
The win was LSU’s sixth this season against a top-10 team, the most in school history.
“I’m going to enjoy the win,” Orgeron said. “Semifinal playoff game against a darn good football team. I don’t know how many top 10 wins these guys have this year, but I think it’s more than anybody in a long time. So I’m going to enjoy this victory. Oklahoma is a good football team.”
Among the many records set was one for attendance. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl drew 78,347, a new bowl and Mercedes-Benz record