Why Georgia Has a Realistic Shot Against Alabama or LSU in SEC Title Matchup

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 29, 2012

Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
Georgia LB Jarvis JonesDaniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Saturday's 17-9 win over Florida in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has Georgia back in the driver's seat in the SEC East. If the Bulldogs can beat Ole Miss and Auburn in their final two SEC games of the season, they will play in the Georgia Dome for the SEC title for the second straight season.

Simple, right?

Auburn should be a cake walk, and the Bulldogs are a 14-point favorite over the visiting Rebels this weekend, according to VegasInsider.com.

Barring a total disaster, Georgia will win the East.

But what will they run into on December 1 in the Georgia Dome?

The winner of this weekend's matchup between LSU and Alabama will be the likely opponent, and based on what we've seen so far this season, Mark Richt's crew will have its work cut out for it no matter which SEC West stalwart is on the other sideline.

Either Alabama or LSU will probably be favored over Georgia, but if the Bulldogs play defense like they did on Saturday afternoon vs. Florida, it would give them a puncher's chance to take home the SEC title.

Jarvis Jones was a monster vs. the Gators, notching 13 tackles (12 of which were solo) in the win over the Gators en route to SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors. The strong performance came after he missed the previous game at Kentucky with an ankle injury. 

He led the charge as the Bulldogs forced six turnovers, including Jones' strip of Florida tight end Jordan Reed as Reed was diving into the end zone for the potential game-tying score. Florida had lost just four turnovers coming into the cocktail party, but Georgia got the Gators rattled from the moment the game kicked off and didn't let up for the entire 60 minutes.

It was a welcome sight for the Bulldogs defense, which was challenged by safety Shawn Williams during the week after the senior accused his team of being "too soft."

They aren't soft anymore.

That's the kind of game that the Georgia defense—which had been heavily criticized coming in—needs to play against the Tide or Tigers if it wants to win the SEC championship.

Alabama's M.O. is protecting the football, so that's easier said than done. But LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has proven to be sloppy at times, especially when pressure is in his face.

If Georgia's defense can attack in the same way that it did against the Gators, the Bulldogs can spring the upset.

But quarterback Aaron Murray is going to have to play better than he did on Saturday.

Murray set the single-season Georgia record with 35 touchdown passes last season, but 14 picks came along with it. This season, it's more of the same. Murray has tossed 17 touchdowns but seven picks, three of which were against Florida when he, too, was rattled.

Does Georgia have a shot at beating one of the two SEC West juggernauts in the Georgia Dome? It would take a defensive effort similar than the one we saw on Saturday and an offense that takes care of the football.

It's certainly not out of the question.