Bourbon Street Blues: OU stumbles in Big Easy

LSU's defense proved to be too much for Oklahoma's offense to handle in their 21-14 Sugar Bowl loss to the Tigers Sunday night in New Orleans. Oklahoma QB Jason White completed only 13 of his 37 pass attempts and was sacked five times by the fierce LSU defense. (AP Photo/Andrew Cohoon)

NEW ORLEANS — Playing LSU in the 'Big Easy' was anything but easy for Jason White and Oklahoma.

The Tigers' top-ranked scoring defense sacked White five times and shut down the nation's No. 1 scoring offense en route to a 21-14 win and the schools' second national championship before 79,342 fans at the Superdome Sunday night in New Orleans.

Many experts felt before the game the key matchup would come down to Oklahoma's offense against LSU's defense, and that's exactly what happened.

Trailing 21-14 midway through the third quarter, the Sooners had not one or two, but three possessions in Tiger territory, and each time LSU's defense won the battle.

Oklahoma's best attempt to tie the game came on a fourth down play from the Tiger 13-yard line, but White's pass over the middle was tipped and went through the hands of Mark Clayton in the end zone.

Overall, White played the worst game of his career as the Sooner offense was held to a season-low 154 total yards. White threw two interceptions and only completed on 13 of his 37 pass attempts for 102 yards.

But make no mistake about it, the LSU defense deserves all the credit for White's poor performance. The Tigers' defensive line and secondary dominated the Sooner offensive line and receivers for a majority of the night, which forced White into making plays he didn't have to make all season.

The Tigers jumped out of the gate early when freshman running back Justin Vincent almost scored on a 64-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later OU cornerback Derrick Strait recovered LSU quarterback Matt Mauck's fumbled snap to stop the Tigers' threat.

But on the Sooners' second play following the fumble recovery, White made the first of two crucial mistakes that led to LSU touchdowns when his deep pass to Will Peoples was thrown into double coverage and intercepted by LSU's Corey Webster.

Webster's pick set the stage for the first score of the game when LSU receiver Skyler Green went in motion and took a handoff from Mauck around the right side for a 24-yard touchdown that put the Tigers up 7-0 at the 11:38 mark.

From that point on Oklahoma's defense kept LSU at bay, but the Sooners' offense continued to struggle.

OU got their first big break of the game midway through the first quarter when a blocked punt by Brandon Shelby set up a one-yard run by Kejuan Jones that tied the game with 7:31 to go in the half.

LSU answered OU's score on their next possession and took a 14-7 lead into the half with a nine-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Justin Vincent 18-yard touchdown run.

Oklahoma received the ball to start the second half, but any hopes of a strong start were quickly dashed when a LSU defensive end Marcus Spears dropped back into coverage, picked off a Jason White pass and scampered 20 yards into the end zone to put LSU up 21-7 with 14:13 left to go in the third quarter.

Both teams battled to a stalemate from that point on in the third quarter, but Brodney Pool's 50-yard interception return of a Matt Mauck pass would set up one-yard run by Kejuan Jones that cut the Tigers' lead to 21-14 with 11:01 to go.

Oklahoma's defense stepped up from that point on, giving the Sooners great field position. The Sooners had the ball inside Tiger territory on three possessions in the games' final nine minutes, but punted on one possession and failed to convert on fourth downs on the other two.

With the win the Tigers claim their second national title and first in 45 years. Oklahoma finished the season ranked No. 3 in both the AP and Coaches Polls released late Sunday night.

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