SUGAR BOWL:<br>Breaking down Sooners vs. Tigers

Although Oklahoma features many of the top names in college football, we feel LSU can stand toe to toe with equal talent. <br> The Sooners have the hardware, heck... even the Heisman Trophy, but don't let the lustrous shine of awards skew your view of the matchup on the field.

LSU rushing offense vs. Oklahoma rushing defense

After watching Kansas State running back Darren Sproles rip through the Oklahoma defense for huge chunks of yards in the Big 12 title game, there is little doubt SEC Championship Game MVP Justin Vincent can't repeat Sproles' performance. Oklahoma will face its toughest task trying to penetrate the best offensive line it has seen this season. Look for Vincent and Co. to run the ball effectively.

Advantage: LSU



LSU passing offense vs. Oklahoma passing defense

Although Matt Mauck is among the best quarterbacks in the nation, the Sooner secondary ranks as the best in college football allowing just 145 yards passing per game. Derrick Strait is a stud at corner as Oklahoma features an aggressive secondary. The Sooners can bring heavy pressure with defensive linemen Tommie Harris, Dan Cody and Butkus Award winner Teddy Lehman as well. Although OU gets the nod here, don't expect Mauck, the SEC leader in touchdown passes, along with his talented cast of reeivers to be intimidated.

Advantage: Oklahoma



Oklahoma rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense

This could be among the best matchups of the game. Oklahoma likes to throw the ball around a great deal with Jason White at quarterback, but the Sooners still run the ball quite often. Not in this game though. LSU held Georgia to just 50 yards in the SEC title game. Although the Tigers are third in Division I against the rush giving up only 68 yards per game, many will say LSU's run defense is the best in the country.

Advantage: LSU



Oklahoma passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

The LSU Tigers led the SEC in sacks in 2003 with 44 total. However, the secondary has been susceptible to big plays over the middle resulting in LSU's giving up 191 passing yards each game. Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jason White is good and can get the ball to a star-studded receiving corps led by Mark Clayton. However, if the Tigers get the White before he gets to Clayton, watch out.


Advantage: Push



LSU special teams vs. Georgia special teams:

We will call this a push simply because of the fact the Tigers struggled to kick an extra point in the SEC title game. OU kicker Trey DiCarlo has been nearly perfect this season on field goals (19-of-22), but c'mon, the Sooners haven't needed many 3-pointers this year. The punting game is nearly neck and neck with Donnie Jones and Oklahoma's Blake Ferguson as is the return game with Skyler Green and Antonio Perkins.


Advantage: Push




By the way tickets have been coveted as if plated in gold around Baton Rouge, one can imagine a very biased purple and gold clad crowd in the Louisiana Superdome on Jan. 4. In what is being called a home game for the Tigers, LSU will come out shy-high in front of 50,000-plus Tiger faithful. Although Oklahoma has more big game experience and will be trying to make amends for the meltdown in the Big 12 title game, LSU should be heavily favored in the intangibles vying for their first national title in 45 years.

Advantage: LSU



Hmmmm…. You can't possibly think Tiger Rag Magazine will pick against the Tigers in LSU's first trip to the national title game in almost half a century. We are going with the Tigers, but not because we are biased. LSU looked dominant in its conference championship game and is the team with the fewest distractions as far as the BCS argument is concerned. In the quote-unquote home game for the Tigers, LSU cruises into the Superdome with nothing but winning on its mind. Oklahoma is still smarting from the beating it took from Kansas State and a few early mistakes could leave coach Bob Stoops' team questioning itself. Not saying LSU will run away with it the way the Wildcats did in Kansas City, but we think the Tigers will emerge with the crystal football.


LSU 23, Oklahoma 14


- Matt Deville

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