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OU football: Game grades for Oklahoma's loss against LSU

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Gabe Brkic

Redshirt freshman kicker Gabe Brkic before the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 28.

The Sooners are preparing for another long offseason after falling in the College Football Playoff semifinal to No. 1 LSU, 63-28.

This marks the third straight season that Oklahoma has finished 12-2 with a loss in the playoff. The Sooners came into the game shorthanded following the suspensions of three players, including a starter in sophomore defensive end Ronnie Perkins. 

News only got worse leading up to the game, as it was revealed that sophomore safety Delarrin Turner-Yell would miss the game with a broken collarbone. It became clear early in the game that Oklahoma's defense had no answers for LSU's top-ranked offense led by Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.

Here's how we graded the Sooners in their College Football Playoff loss:

Offense: F

Oklahoma's offense struggled to get drives started against the Tigers. The Sooners went three-and-out four times in the first half and failed to put together two consecutive drives without a three-and-out until early in the fourth quarter.

By that point, the Sooners trailed 56-28, and the game had all but been decided. Senior quarterback Jalen Hurts struggled to find his rhythm against LSU, finishing 15-of-31 passing for 217 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Hurts was able to find the end zone in the running game twice, and by the end of the game he was the Sooners' leading rusher with 14 carries for 57 yards. 

Hurts had trouble getting the ball to his favorite target, junior wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who finished with just four catches for 114 yards.

Oklahoma's passing game relies on the complement of a strong running game, but the Sooners were held to 3.5 yards per carry. The Sooners finished the game with less than 100 yards rushing for the first time since 2016.

The Sooners finished with 322 yards of total offense and just one turnover, but they converted on just five of 13 third-down attempts against the Tigers. Oklahoma punted five times against LSU, which is far too many when facing the top offense in the country.

Defense: F-

LSU's offense took the ball on their first possession of the game and needed just three plays to put the ball in the end zone. After punting on their second possession, the Tigers went on to score touchdowns on their next seven possessions until they finally missed a field goal early in the fourth quarter. 

The Sooners were shorthanded already coming into the game, but a targeting call on sophomore defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles left the Sooners' defense very thin in the defensive backfield. 

Burrow took advantage of the inexperienced Sooners' secondary, throwing for 493 yards while completing 29-of-39 passing attempts, including seven touchdowns. Burrow's seven touchdown passes are the most ever in a playoff game.

The Heisman-winning quarterback found junior wide receiver Justin Jefferson early and often against the Sooners. Jefferson finished with 14 catches for 227 yards and four touchdowns. All four of Jefferson's touchdown catches came in the first half.

The Tigers averaged over 12 yards per passing attempt against Oklahoma and 9.4 yards per play. LSU converted on six of their 11 third-down attempts and were forced to punt only one time.

Redshirt sophomore defensive back Justin Broiles and freshman defensive back Woodi Washington led the Sooners in tackles with 11 and 10, respectively. Senior defensive back Parnell Motley had seven tackles including one tackle for loss, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

LSU finished with 692 yards of total offense and was held without a turnover. 

Special Teams: C-

The Sooners relied on redshirt sophomore Reeves Mundschau a lot in their loss to LSU on Saturday. The Texas native finished the game with five punts with an average of 43.8 yards per punt.

On Mundschau's first punt of the day, the Sooners were backed up in their own territory after going three-and-out. A 23-yard punt that landed out of bounds gave the Tigers excellent field position at the Oklahoma 42-yard line to start their first drive. 

Mundschau's longest punt of the day was 56 yards, and he was able to down one inside the 20.

Redshirt sophomore Charleston Rambo had Oklahoma's only kickoff return of the day and was able to return it 33 yards, the longest return of the season.

Oklahoma didn't kick any field goals on Saturday, but redshirt freshman Gabe Brkic was 4-for-4 on extra point attempts. Brkic finished the season a perfect 69-69 on all kicks this season and is the only FBS kicker to not miss an extra point this season.

The Ohio native is now the first Sooner to accomplish this feat.

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