ATLANTA — Lots of things were said about Oklahoma’s chances prior to its fourth appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Some said OU didn’t have the defense to stop Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Others said playing the Sooners is essentially a first-round bye.
Talking heads from ESPN and other sports networks were scrutinized for their low opinions of the Sooners. OU fans dubbed those takes as idiotic.
A report even came out during the game stating LSU staff privately believed the Sooners weren’t even a top 15 team.
Similar buzz said the Tigers called the Sooners only the fifth-best team they’ve played behind Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Auburn.
All those statements materialized and were largely substantiated on Saturday afternoon in the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
LSU skull dragged OU, 63-28, and it wasn’t even that close.
In the end, critics said the Sooners didn’t have a chance because they really didn’t have a chance of winning this ballgame.
Much like last year in the Orange Bowl against Alabama, the result was decided in the first quarter.
Even after OU tied the game at 7 in the first quarter on a 3-yard run from Kennedy Brooks following a 51-yard connection from Jalen Hurts to CeeDee Lamb, it felt like the Sooners were delaying the inevitable.
Through the first two drives, OU racked up a whopping minus-7 yards in six plays. In the same amount of snaps, LSU had 50 yards and seven points to show for it.
While the Tigers were getting easy looks, the Sooners were having to fight for every yard. Even that 51-yard pass took extraordinary effort from Lamb to make the grab. Most receivers wouldn’t have made that catch.
It was clear OU couldn’t keep pace, and the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl soon became the Joe Burrow Show.
Burrow became the first player in FBS history to account for eight touchdowns in a bowl game, and that was just the beginning for the Heisman winner.
His 493 yards passing broke a College Football Playoff Semifinal record set by Florida State’s Jameis Winston (348 yards) in the 2015 Rose Bowl.
If that wasn’t enough, his seven touchdown passes broke three records and tied another.
Burrow shattered the Peach Bowl (4), New Year’s Six (5) and CFP Semifinal (4) records for most touchdowns thrown in a game, and the mark also tied the most in any bowl game’s history.
Furthermore, his 29 completed passes tied the CFP Semifinal record. One of those completions—a 62-yard pass to Thaddeus Moss—is the longest in CFP history.
To cap it off, Burrow’s 515 yards of offense toppled the Peach Bowl (469), New Year’s Six (514) and CFP Semifinal (417) records.
At halftime, Burrow had seven touchdown passes. OU had only eight first downs.
We witnessed a historic performance turn deadly. Burrow came about as close to murdering an opposing team’s defense as one can get. It was that bad.
Maybe Bookie Radley-Hiles’ ejection for targeting wasn’t as boneheaded as it appeared. He was simply fleeing the scene of an ongoing homicide.
And it wasn’t only Burrow breaking records.
Tigers receiver Justin Jefferson broke several records with his incredible 14-catch night that tallied 227 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
It was truly a game for the record books, and all those stats aren’t even counting the ridiculous amount of points LSU scored.
The Tigers’ 63 points broke Peach Bowl and CFP Semifinal records. Their second quarter points (28) and halftime points (49) trumped marks previously set in those two settings as well as the New Year’s Six. The 692 yards netted along the way earned similar honors.
Did things snowball on the Sooners? Certainly.
However, there is no reason to believe even a few favorable outcomes here and there would’ve changed the result.
One of the biggest complaints from OU fans stemmed from an apparent pass interference that wasn’t called on an incomplete pass from Hurts to Jadon Hazelwood late in the first quarter.
The Sooners trailed 14-7 at that point, and a 15-yard penalty there would’ve put them in LSU territory. Nothing was guaranteed, but that would’ve given OU a great chance to tie things up and possibly put some doubt in the Tigers’ minds.
Those kind of things can change the momentum of the game in one way or another.
Instead, the Sooners punted, and LSU scored seven plays later. Ballgame.
OU looked defeated from that point forward, and thus began the Tigers’ historic run that carried well into the second quarter and beyond.
Now the talk is about whether the Sooners should’ve been let in the playoff. Whether the playoff system is broken for letting OU in every year despite consistently poor performances (excluding the 2018 Rose Bowl).
Many are crying foul at the CFP committee for not giving two-loss Oregon or two-loss Georgia an opportunity.
In reality, it is those teams who fans should be upset with.
If you’re upset the Sooners made it this far in the first place, don’t blame the 13 committee members.
Blame Oregon. Blame Utah. Blame Georgia. Blame Alabama.
Why? Because those teams had much easier paths to the playoff than OU.
The Sooners needed a lot of help, and teams like those blew it down the stretch. Take care of the likes of Arizona State, USC, South Carolina and Auburn, and OU would’ve had no path.
It didn’t look pretty at times, but the Sooners took care of business. Because of that, there was no other reasonable replacement for them in the end.
A one-loss Power 5 conference champion will always get the nod over a two-loss Power 5 squad with no conference title.
Unless other teams stop losing games they shouldn’t, nothing will change.
OU is now 0-4 in CFP appearances, but it has no impact on future seasons. It won’t—nor should it—affect the Sooners’ chances of making the final four in the future.
Will OU ever get over the hump? That remains to be seen.
One thing is certain, though. The Sooners aren’t on a national championship level. Not yet, at least.
For now, they are Tiger Bait.