No. 9 Georgia handed No. 6 LSU its first loss of the season on Saturday, surviving the Tigers in a dramatic shootout in Athens, 44-41, per SportsCenter on Twitter:
WHAT. A. GAME. Classic in between the hedges, as No. 9 Georgia knocks off No. 6 LSU, 44-41. Murray: 298 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT. #LSUvsUGA— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 28, 2013
There were only four total punts, and the teams combined for nearly 950 yards on offense.
I asked Les Miles if the AM- Bama game and this one signifies a new era of an offensive-minded SEC. "I hope not," he sighed.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) September 29, 2013
Richt: "Every game's gonna be a barn-burner until our defense gets stout and our special teams gets in line."— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) September 29, 2013
With the loss, LSU drops to 4-1, while Georgia moves to 3-1 in picking up its third consecutive win this September.
It didn't take long for Week 5's most anticipated matchup to become a shootout, as the offenses took turns marching up and down the field and scoring touchdowns from the start, per CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:
LSU-UGA game feeling like another Bama-A&M type shootout. Oh this wacky SEC.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) September 28, 2013
After Georgia struck first with a touchdown on its opening drive, LSU answered quickly with a six-play, 66-yard scoring drive of its own, capped off by a 48-yard touchdown pass from Zach Mettenberger to Kadron Boone.
Following an Aaron Murray interception a few moments later, LSU would take advantage of a short field to go up 14-7. Again it was Mettenberger connecting with Boone for the score.
However, it took Murray less than two minutes to right his wrong, as he led the Bulldogs 79 yards in five plays to tie the game at 14 points apiece.
It appeared that Georgia's offense would be dealt a major blow in the second quarter when sophomore running back Todd Gurley went down with an ankle injury. He limped into the locker room and didn't return to the game, but as college sports analyst Knox Bardeen pointed out, it certainly doesn't hurt having Keith Marshall as your backup:
Being able to replace Todd Gurley w/ Keith Marshall has the feel of an All-Star game. Any one team shouldn't have that kind of backup talent— Knox Bardeen (@knoxbardeen) September 28, 2013
After each team tacked on a field goal in the second quarter, Georgia put together the most important drive of the half, covering 82 yards in under four minutes to take a seven-point lead with just 20 seconds remaining in the first half.
The 24 points allowed in the first half were the most LSU has given up in nearly a decade, as pointed out by ESPN Stats & Info:
This is the 1st time LSU has allowed at least 24 points in the 1st half of a road game since 2004 at Georgia.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 28, 2013
While both Murray and Mettenberger threw for at least 140 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, the real story was Georgia's rushing attack, led by Gurley and Marshall. The Bulldogs out-rushed the Tigers 143-13 through the first two quarters, averaging nearly seven yards per carry compared to just 0.9 for LSU.
As a result, Georgia outgained LSU 306-155 in the first half.
The Tigers would respond on the opening drive of the third quarter, rushing for 45 yards during a 12-play, 53-yard drive that resulted in a field goal.
After Georgia's Marshall Morgan pushed the Bulldogs' lead back to seven points with a 55-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, Mettenberger drove the Tigers right back down the field, connecting with Jarvis Landry on a 39-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 27-27.
Late in the quarter, the Tigers muffed a punt return right after stopping Georgia on a key third down. The Bulldogs would recover and make the Tigers pay with a 21-yard touchdown pass just three plays later.
Here's a look at the sequence for LSU:
The Tigers would bounce right back on the following drive, though, covering 70 yards to tie the game up for the fifth time.
After Georgia was forced to settle for a field goal and a 37-34 lead on its next drive, Mettenberger made the throw of the game. With LSU facing a 3rd-and-23 deep in its own territory, the senior connected on a 25-yard pass to Odell Beckham.
The play would prove costly for the Bulldogs, as Mettenberger drove the Tigers all the way down into the red zone before Jeremy Hill put them ahead for the first time since the first quarter with an eight-yard touchdown run.
Unfortunately for Les Miles' squad, the quick drive left Georgia plenty of time for a rebuttal.
Murray only needed six plays and a little over two minutes to find Justin Scott-Wesley from 25 yards out for the game-winning touchdown pass with just over 100 seconds to play.
LSU reached its own 35-yard line on its final drive but came up short, turning the ball over on downs to lose in heartbreaking fashion. The result was anything but depressing for the Georgia sideline, which erupted immediately after Mettenberger's last-ditch effort hit the turf.
Key Player Grades
Let's face it: Neither defense truly stepped up on Saturday. Both offenses were superb from the start, and therefore we'll focus on the offensive studs from Week 5's shootout.
Aaron Murray, Georgia, QB: A
While Murray did throw a costly interception early on Saturday, he was lights out from then on and accounted for five total touchdowns. On top of that, his team earned its biggest win of the year and will be moving up in the polls this week.
In addition to picking apart LSU's defense, Murray was calm and collected on the game-winning drive.
Zach Mettenberger, LSU, QB: A-
LSU fans can't blame Mettenberger for Saturday's devastating loss. The senior played a monster game on the road, throwing for 372 yards and tossing three touchdowns in the Tigers' painful defeat.
The Tigers could have used a little more accuracy from the senior on their final drive, but the blame has to fall on LSU's defense for allowing 44 points on Saturday.
Jarvis Landry, LSU, WR: A-
Tigers junior wideout Jarvis Landry made some clutch receptions on Saturday, finishing with 10 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown. As expected, Mettenberger looked Landry's way often, and his favorite target certainly didn't let him down.
Landry failed to make what would have been a sensational grab late in the game before LSU's final drive stalled. Despite the failed connection, it's difficult to knock his performance in hostile territory.
LSU will have a week to lick its wounds before hitting the road again to take on Mississippi State in Week 6. Georgia will also be on the road next weekend; the high-flying Bulldogs travel north to Knoxville to face SEC East rival Tennessee.
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