Georgia and LSU will face each in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. The match-up between the Bulldogs and Tigers holds the distinction as the second most frequent pairing in the title game. The first occurred in 2003, a re-match of the 17-10 thriller in Baton Rouge. LSU won both meetings as the Tigers dominated Georgia 34-13 in Atlanta. Two years later, Georgia handled LSU, 34-14. In 2011, the Bulldogs jumped out to a lead of 10-0 by the final minute of the first quarter. LSU scored a touchdown midway through the second quarter then five more in the second half to rout Georgia, 42-10. SO now we look at the breakdowns as Georgia and LSU Meet in Atlanta again.
Georgia And LSU Meet In Atlanta
Georgia and LSU did not face each other in the regular season this year. However, there are plenty of bases of comparison. They have played four common opponents with victories over all of those.
OPPONENT GEORGIA’S SCORE LSU’S SCORE MARGIN OF VICTORY
Auburn 21-14 23-20 7 vs. 3
Florida 24-17 42-28 7 vs. 14
Texas A&M 19-13 50-7 6 vs. 43
Vanderbilt 30-6 66-38 24 vs. 28
LSU’s offense had resembled a plodding caterpillar for more than a decade. Suddenly, at the end of August, it burst forth from a cocoon with a blistering passing attack while retaining a formidable running game. Steve Ensminger has brought over thirty years of coaching offense in various capacities at different universities. Joe Brady has contributed some fresh ideas from his years with the New Orleans Saints. Has this unlikely dynamic duo been tag-teaming the Purple and Gold offense toward a championship? Have they merely been inflating their offensive statistics against a bunch of punching bags posing as defenses?
LSU’s offense posted some impress numbers during the regular season. The Tigers threw for 390 yards on average and over 300 yards per game in all but one contest. On the ground, LSU averaged 170.7 yards per game and gained over 100 yards in eleven matchups. In total, their offense compiled a mean of 560.7 yards with over 400 yards in every game.
The following is what LSU’s offense accomplished against the four opponents in common with Georgia. In parentheses is what these teams’ defenses allowed on average per game.
LSU vs. RUSHING YDS PASSING YDS TDS SCORED
Auburn 187 (115.5) 321 (208.4) 3 (2.3)
Florida 218 (109.6) 293 (192.0) 6 (1.6)
Texas A&M 128 (129.3) 425 (211.7) 6 (2.4)
Vanderbilt 181 (209.2) 418 (227.8) 8 (4.0)
Those defenses rank quite high compared to the rest of the FBS. Auburn’s defense stood 19th nationally in rushing yards and 41st in passing yards. Florida ranked 15th nationally in rushing yards and 19th in passing yards allowed. Texas A&M finished 47th place in terms of passing yards allowed and 30th in rushing yards. Vanderbilt was 114th in the category of rushing yards and 69th in passing yards. As the numbers show, three of the opponents are top 50 in both categories.
Georgia has bucked the trend sweeping most of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Kirby Smart’s current squad has concentrated on a smothering defense and holding on to the ball. Have the Bulldogs honed their teeth on the bones of numerous vanquished yet worthy foes? Have they just fattened their bellies and their win-loss record on servings of cupcakes?
Georgia’s defense have dominated their competition. The Bulldogs have limited opponents to 186 passing yards on average with only six of them exceeding 200 yards through the air. Their foes have managed only 71.3 rushing yards on average as only three of them topped the century mark on the ground. In terms of total yards from scrimmage, UGA gave up an average of 257. 3 per contest while only three teams compiled more than 300 total offensive yards.
Below are the numbers of what Georgia’s defense allowed against the same opponents. The offensive averages per game for these teams are in parentheses.
GEORGIA vs. RUSHING YDS PASSING YDS TDS ALLOWED
Auburn 84 (211.3) 245 (210.1) 2 (4.1)
Florida 21 (120.5) 257 (300.4) 2 (4.2)
Texas A&M -1 (152.1) 275 (247.1) 1 (3.6)
Vanderbilt 116 (126.8) 109 (172.0) 0 (1.7)
The offenses of the common opponents are less than impressive. Auburn is tied for 26th highest average rushing yards and 86th for passing yards per game. Florida’s rushing and passing averages per contest rank 122nd and 17th respectively. Texas A&M falls into 77th place for average yards on the ground and 54th for yards through the air. Vanderbilt lies near the bottom of the standings in rushing yards per game (112th) and passing yards (114th place). Viewing the numbers, one can see that only two of the foes feature just one half of their offense in the top 50.
Both team’s statistics shed some light on a probable outcome. LSU passed for more than 100 yards above the common opponents’ average allowed in each game against the four teams. The Tigers scored more than the average number of touchdowns allowed per game by those four. They piled up at least twice as many touchdowns as three of them surrendered on average. Auburn and Texas A&M surpassed their average passing yards per game versus the Bulldogs. Only Vandy held LSU appreciably below the average amount of rushing yards that an opponent had been allowing. The margins of victory against three of those four opponents were in the single digits. However, the week after Georgia survived a six-point victory at home over Texas A&M, LSU hosted the Aggies then crushed the visitors by 43 points.
Another factor points to a victory for LSU. The Tigers’ defense has rebounded following a subpar performance against Ole Miss’ quarterback running for 212 yards and four touchdowns on 21 attempts. A week later, Arkansas’ three quarterbacks combined for 15 rushing attempts for 30 yards. Last week, Texas A&M’s two quarterbacks finished with 14 carries for -9 yards. Jake Fromm does not pose a threat to run with the ball considering that he has 30 rushing attempts on the season for four yards in total and no touchdowns.
Georgia’s passing attack will be severely hampered. George Pickens, the Bulldogs’ top receiver in terms of yards (498) and receiving touchdowns (six), will be suspended for the first half of this game. Lawrence Cager has the same number of receptions as Pickens (33) as well as the second most receiving yards (476) and third most TDs through the air (four) yet he will miss the game due to an ankle injury. No other wide receiver has more than 20 catches. Much of the burden will fall on Dominick Blaylock who has caught 17 passes for 299 yards and 5 scores. The question is will any other receiver pick up the slack at least for the first while Pickens serves his punishment.
LSU’s offense will torch the Bulldogs’ secondary. Georgia’s offense will struggle to keep up on the scoreboard, especially in the first half. LSU will secure its 12th SEC title and a playoff bid while Georgia awaits its consolation bowl destination.