ATLANTA -- No. 4 Oklahoma will walk into Mercedes-Benz Stadium as nearly two-touchdown underdogs to No. 1 LSU in the Peach Bowl national semifinal on Saturday. Needless to say, if the SOoners can pull off the upset and win the first College Football Playoff game in program history, they will have to produce one of the most stunning performances of the CFP era.

Will it happen?, or will LSU continue operating on cruise control with its final destination set for New Orleans and the CFP National Championship? Let's break down the matchup with five keys to the Peach Bowl as the Tigers and Sooners begin playoff Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

1. Jalen Hurts has to be a star: With running back Rhamondre Stevenson out and starter Kennedy Brooks back after a head injury sent him to the sidelines in the Big 12 Championship Game, this game falls on the shoulders of senior quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Heisman Trophy finalist has has a dream season after transferring from Alabama, throwing for 3,634 yards, rushing for 1,255 more and scoring 51 total touchdowns. But there's a catch. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda squared off against Hurts as Alabama's starter twice, and Aranda held him to an average of 145 passing yards and 79 rushing yards in two starts. 

Hurts will have to be significantly better than that in order to topple the Tigers. The over/under in this game is 76 points. Can Hurts win a shootout against an LSU offense that has been unstoppable all season? It'll be on Hurts to play like Superman -- and hold onto the ball -- in order for the Sooners to move on to New Orleans for the title game. Yes, that means finding wide receiver CeeDee Lamb early and often. But in order to do that, he'll have to do it against what's likely to be extremely tight coverage by the Tigers secondary.

2. Freshmen must stand up: LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is questionable with a hamstring injury suffered in practice, which puts a ton of pressure on freshmen running backs Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery. Edwards-Helaire has been a force as an every down running back between the tackles, in space and as a receiver out of the backfield with 50 catches -- third on the team. Can Davis-Price or Emery become that every-down running back? Can they combine their efforts enough to make up for Edwards-Helaire's loss?

Make no mistake, this is a big deal. Sure, Burrow's Heisman, wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase's Biletnikoff Award and fellow WR Justin Jefferon's 1,207 yards have garnered most of the spotlight. But Edwards-Helaire's ability to get the tough yards late in games combined with his work as a safety valve in the passing game has made him Burrow's most valuable weapon.

3. Stay relaxed under pressure: Nobody has been able to slow Burrow down, so Oklahoma's defense will have its work cut out for it. Can defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who has produced the Big 12's best defense in 2019, dial up pressure in an attempt to rattle Burrow without the benefit of suspended defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins? It'll tell the tale of the entire game.

The Sooners have given up just 330.6 yards per game and have a conference-best 7.77 tackles for loss per game this season. Grinch had three weeks to figure out how to get creative and get the best of LSU's offensive line, which recently won the Joe Moore Award given to the nation's best offensive line. How will he do it? Twists, stunts, delayed blitzes and pre-snap movement should be a big part of the game plan.

The Sooners have been better under Grinch, but one concerning stat jumps off the page that could come back and haunt them against the Tigers. They've given up points in 93.02 percent of opponent's red zone attempts. When the pressure cranks up, the Sooners have cracked this year. Grinch needs to find a way to pressure Burrow and make sure that his unit thrives under pressure in the red zone -- when it matters most. 

4. DBU needs to make game-changing plays: LSU is known as "DBU" for a reason. Safety Grant Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award, freshman Derek Stingley Jr. was named as the SEC Freshman of the Year, and Krisitan Fulton has been solid all season, which is par for the course for this program. This will be one of their toughest tests of the season, though.

Lamb has been the star for Oklahoma with 1,208 yards and 14 touchdowns, but Charleston Rambo has been a nice complement with 42 catches for 734 yards and five scores and freshman Lee Morris came on strong in the month of November.  This isn't going to be as big of a test as LSU had against Alabama earlier this season, but the Tigers got lit up in that game, so it'll be on this secondary and Aranda to slow them down. How?! Expect Stingley to get physical with Lamb, Delpit to provide help over the top, and Aranda to try to force one of the other Sooners' playmakers to step up.

5. Discipline is a must: LSU is like a venomous snake. When it sees its chance to strike, it does it fast and does so painfully. Oklahoma can't provide those chances. That's a problem because its lack of discipline has been a storyline all season. The Sooners are last in the nation in penalty yards with 976, next-to-last in penalty yards per game at 75.1 and 109th in turnover margin at -0.54. If they give LSU extra possessions and free first downs, this game won't be close. The good news is that Oklahoma's experience in the CFP shouldn't allow nerves to creep into the equation, which will be a big benefit early in the game. But will that comfort reverse a trend that has been prevalent all season? It better. 

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Dennis Dodd
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Jerry Palm
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Tom Fornelli
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Chip Patterson
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Barton Simmons
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Barrett Sallee
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Ben Kercheval
LSU -13.5

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