LSU vs. Georgia: Bulldogs' BCS Title Hopes Are on the Line in SEC Showdown

Jeff Bell@@JrayBellCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2013

UGA coach Mark Richt
UGA coach Mark RichtScott Cunningham/Getty Images

The LSU-Georgia game (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) highlights a great Saturday of college football, and the game is pivotal for a Bulldogs team that, despite taking an early-season loss, still has its eyes on a national title appearance.

The possibility may not be entirely in the hands of Mark Richt's team, however. With the loss to Clemson, the Bulldogs have to hope that several of the other top contenders also lose.

Contrary to what many SEC fans believe, a one-loss team isn't going to get in over an undefeated team from a BCS conference not named the AAC. A resume that features wins over LSU, Florida and South Carolina is nice, but it isn't significantly better than one from an undefeated Oregon or Florida State team.

But none of that matters in September, because Aaron Murray and company still have a lot of work to do.

Georgia's season will be defined by what happens Saturday afternoon in Athens, because LSU is the toughest team remaining on the regular season schedule.

The Tigers are undefeated with wins over TCU, UAB, Kent State and Auburn. Last weekend against Gus Malzahn's team, LSU won 35-21 in an impressive display of power on both sides of the ball.

Running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries against Auburn. Such an explosive running game puts the onus on Georgia to slow Hill down and force quarterback Zach Mettenberger to make plays with his arm.

LSU RB Jeremy Hill
LSU RB Jeremy HillChris Graythen/Getty Images

The question is whether the Tigers have a better offense than either Clemson or South Carolina, the two best teams Georgia has played to date. It's safe to say they won't feature the same high-powered attack of Dabo Swinney's club, but Mettenberger is playing the best football of his career, having thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns with just one interception this season.

The Bulldogs allowed 35 points to Clemson and 30 to South Carolina. Against the Gamecocks, quarterback Aaron Murray was outstanding in helping to put up 41 points, but Les Miles' defense is a different animal.

It has allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, so even All-everything running back Todd Gurley may have a tough time finding yards up the middle.

But regardless of how you think the game will play out, the pressure is enormous. The eyes of the nation will be watching to see if the Bulldogs can resurrect their BCS chances or if LSU can make the leap forward into the conversation of BCS front-runners.

As mentioned, the road ahead is a murky one. But Georgia, by virtue of playing in the nation's best conference, still has a route to Pasadena.

The victory over South Carolina put the Bulldogs in good position to win the SEC East, and the winner of the SEC Championship Game is always going to merit consideration for a spot in the title.

If Georgia loses on Saturday, there's virtually no scenario where they end up in Pasadena. While the loss still wouldn't hurt their ability to win the SEC East, a two-loss resume with wins over South Carolina and Florida just doesn't cut it for national title consideration.

Right now, this is one of the few teams that we know all about. The Bulldogs have faced arguably the toughest schedule so far and have come out looking pretty good.

We know about Aaron Murray and how he's completed over 69 percent of his throws in every game thus far. We know about the running game of Gurley and Keith Marshall, and we know that the defense, while young, has the talent to take this thing all the way.

The missing variable in Saturday's equation is LSU, who we can assume is a Top 10 team, but nobody will really know until kickoff. We can assume that Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are one of the top wide receiver duos in the country, and we can also assume that Les Miles will have his guys ready to play.

But there's a big difference between knowing what Georgia is made of and assuming what LSU will bring to the table.

It might be better to know what your team is all about, but the unknown can be scary.

On Saturday, the Tigers will finally show the world what kind of team they are in 2013, and the Bulldogs must pull out a victory if they want to keep alive any dreams of a place in the BCS National Championship.

All stats via ESPN