Sugar Bowl Preview's James Hale, who has been in New Orleans all week, breaks down tonight's Sugar Bowl matchup and gives his prediction from New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — This has been an interesting week of covering OU football. Isn't it interesting that the same week America's top running back Adrian Peterson commits to the Sooners, seemingly solving the Sooners main problem on offense, they go into the National Championship game with the running game as a weakness.

OU has worked hard on the running game since their loss to KSU and they hope they will be productive against LSU, who is great at stopping the run. The offensive line has gone back to basics and a mean streak has been apparent at practice. Kevin Wilson has pushed them, loved them, yelled at them, ran them and kicked them to get them ready for this game.

At running back, Donta Hickson has worked just as much with the first unit as KeJuan Jones and Renaldo Works. I am not quite sure what that means, because this has happened before during the season. I am told that Hickson will play more in this game than at any other time that the three running backs have been healthy. If Hickson didn't scare the coaches so much about dropping the ball, I think he would be the starter right now.

Don't expect Tommie Harris in the backfield or anything, but on third or fourth and short it won't be shocking to see Teddy Lehman in the tight end slot with J.D. Runnels at fullback and Works, Jones or Hickson at running back. They have still worked Harris at tight end some on short-yardage situations.

Jason White has looked great and he has been great with the media and fans all week. He has gone back to being Jason White for the most part and not Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jason White. He has been on target and the Sooners believe they have the edge with their receivers against the LSU secondary. LSU says they will man up with OU, but they fear the speed with Brandon Jones and Mark Bradley. I am told that Bradley will get some key snaps in this game. OU hopes to get some big plays against that secondary.

Oklahoma's defense is a proud unit and is ready to reestablish their dominance against LSU. They know that there are questions about them right now after the Kansas State game, and they want to prove everybody wrong.

Drop back passing quarterbacks have never had great success against a Stoop-led defense, and I don't think they will have a lot of success now. LSU will try to assualt OU, and I am not sure they will be able to do that against the Sooners.

As far as this battle it comes down to which team will inflict their will on the other, and I think the OU defense is better than the LSU offense. Special teams are about a wash and both teams say a big play there could sway the outcome.

I think OU is the better team, and if they return to form I feel they will win 24-17.

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