The SEC Championship – LSU Preview

Tomorrow afternoon, the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs have an opportunity to win an SEC championship and enter the lore of great Georgia teams that not even the 1983 and 2007 teams will enjoy.  After starting out 0-2, this team enters the Georgia Dome for the second time playing with “house money” at this point in the season against the top-ranked LSU Tigers.  If the Dawgs can jump out to a quick lead or keep this game in doubt entering the 4th quarter, I like our chances.  If not, the Tigers will win and probably will fairly easily.

When LSU Has the Ball

As everyone is aware, LSU’s offense is driven by a power running game with a four-headed beast at running back.  Since Jordan Jefferson’s return from suspension, the Tigers have focused on running the ball and hitting big plays in the passing game.  Defense and special teams have given the LSU defense a lot of short fields and quick scores.  Our best shot to control the LSU offense will be to force the Tiger offense to drive the length of the field consistently.  If not left on the field for long periods, the Georgia front 7 should be able to control the Tiger running game.  If the offense and special teams can limit the Tigers’ ability to score quickly, LSU will find tough sledding against a good Georgia defense.

When Georgia Has the Ball

LSU is nasty on defense with college football’s best front 4.  Therefore, it’s going to be critical for the Georgia offensive line to play their best game of the season.  As the Tigers run in waves of defensive linemen, the nation’s largest offensive line is going to have to stay fresh and create just enough holes to force LSU to respect play action in the passing game.  The LSU secondary has taken advantage of quarterback mistakes forced by the Tiger pass rush.  John Chavis will put his defensive backs led by the Honey Badger in man coverage and dare Aaron Murray to make precise throws.  Murray is probably the best quarterback in the SEC and will need to take advantage of opportunities in the passing game when they present themselves.

What Will Happen

LSU is battle tested beating Oregon and Arkansas handily and surviving in a win against Alabama.  Georgia has played “do or die” games all year long since the early loss to South Carolina.

Both teams have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.  The two offenses are built on strong running games and play-action passing to big, strong wide receivers.  The defenses have been nasty and physical with SEC speed across the board.  The two coaches are very different with the eccentric Les Miles and the unflappable Mark Richt.

This game is going to come down to which offense takes advantage of the few opportunities presented to make big plays and special teams just as the last time these two met in the Georgia Dome with a big, unexpected Georgia victory.  I’m afraid the Tigers will be the ones celebrating on the Dome floor early tomorrow evening but closer than the experts think.

Final Score:  LSU 27, Georgia 19

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