Eyes on the Prize: OU, LSU set for title tilt

Nick Saban and Bob Stoops pose with the ADT National Championship trophy at a news conference Saturday in New Orleans. Kickoff for tonights National Championship game between No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) and No. 2 LSU (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl is set for 7 p.m. CST. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Matchup
Oklahoma (12-1) vs. LSU (12-1)

7 p.m. CST. The Superdome (79,688) - New Orleans, La.

The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC. Brent Musberger (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (color), Jack Arute (sideline) and Lynn Swann (sideline) will call the game.

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The Series
The Sooners are 1-0 all-time against the Tigers. Oklahoma beat LSU 35-0 in the 1949 Sugar Bowl in a game that was overshadowed by the infamous spying incident where former LSU player Walter 'Piggy' Barnes was found peeking in on the Sooner locker room. Leon Heath rumbled for 170 yards and Darrel Royal's pitch to George 'Jr.' Thomas ended up in a 34-yard touchdown run in the win.

The Rankings
Oklahoma is No. 1 in the BCS standings and No. 3 in the AP and Coaches Top 25 Polls. LSU is ranked No. 2 in the BCS and 2nd in the AP and Coaches Polls.

The Coaches
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops is 55-10 overall in his fifth season at OU. LSU Head Coach Nick Saban is 38-16 in his fourth season in Baton Rouge. Stoops is 3-1 in bowl games and 2-0 in BCS bowl games. LSU 2-1 in bowl games under Saban. This is the Tigers' first BCS appearance.

About the Tigers
The Tigers started off the season 5-0 before dropping their only game of the season to Florida (19-7) on Oct. 11 in Baton Rouge. But since that loss, the Tigers have won seven straight, including their 34-13 blowout win over Georgia in the SEC Championship game.

LSU's strength is on defense, where they are first in the nation in scoring defense and second in total defense. The Tigers' defense, who have only given up more than 20 points once this season (24 against Arkansas) and held nine of their opponents to one touchdown or less, is anchored by 6-foot-3 292 pound defensive tackle Chad Lavalais. Lavalais is LSU's fifth-leading tackler with 57 tackles and leads the Tigers in sacks (7) and tackles for loss (16).

LSU's offense isn't too shabby either and ranks 14th nationally in scoring with a 34.92 per game average. Junior quarterback Matt Mauck has thrown for 2,701 yards, 28 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions while completing over 64 percent of his attempts.

The Tigers running game is led by freshman Justin Vincent. Vincent leads a trio of LSU runners to pass the 400 yard mark this season with 905 yards on 138 carries. Junior Michael Clayton lis the Tigers leading receiver with 1,041 yards and 71 catches. Sophomore receiver Skyler Green ranks third among the LSU receivers with 46 catches for 496 yards, but he is also major threat in the return game. Green has returned two punts for touchdowns this season and averages 19.8 yards per return.

On Special teams LSU punter Donnie Jones averages 42.8 yard per boot, and kickers Ryan Gaudet and Chris Jackson have combined to make 12 of their 20 field goals.

Inside LSU
2003 Statistics

Inside Oklahoma
2003 Statistics

Team Comparison (National Rankings):
Scoring Offense
Oklahoma #1 (45.15)
LSU #14 (34.92)

Total Offense
Oklahoma #12 (461.38)
LSU #28 (426.54)

Rushing Offense
LSU #27 (187.77)
Oklahoma #61 (154)

Passing Offense
Oklahoma #9 (307.4)
LSU #42 (238.8)

Scoring Defense
LSU #1 (10.8)
Oklahoma #3 (14.8)

Total Defense
Oklahoma #1 (255.62)
LSU #2 (259.54)

Rushing Defense
LSU #3 (68.2)
Oklahoma #17 (109.7)

Pass Defense
Oklahoma #1 (145.92)
LSU #24 (191.38)

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