Georgia comes into this game ranked seventh in the newly released BCS poll. After the debacle that was the Alabama game, the Dawgs have rebounded with wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Georgia leaves the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium and takes to the road for the next four weeks. This begins a very tough stretch for the Dawgs. Florida, Kentucky, and Auburn all wait in the wings.
A good start in Baton Rouge would go a long way in getting Georgia back into the national title discussion.
LSU (ranked 13th in the BCS) stumbled in Gainesville two weeks ago. Florida dominated in "The Swamp," putting up 51 points on the Tigers.
LSU regrouped and beat an improving South Carolina team last week in Columbia. The Gamecocks gave the Tigers all they wanted, but in the end the Tigers defense came through.
So both teams have been roughed up this season. They both need this one, bad!
A loss for LSU would make it tough for them to contend in the West with Alabama. They would need help to get to Atlanta—a lot of help.
A Georgia loss will put them behind the eight ball heading into Jacksonville for the annual showdown with the Gators. Georgia would be in a must-win situation against the Gators.
A 3:30 pm EST showdown awaits. CBS will have all of the action.
Georgia will win if...
1) Stafford, Moreno, and Green bring their "A" games.
Knowshon Moreno ran wild over Vanderbilt (172 yards) last week. Matthew Stafford and A.J. Green connected on numerous occasions, moving the Dawgs down the field all day.
I don’t expect Georgia to run wild on LSU. I do hope to see the Dawgs try to establish the run early.
Once established, that should allow Stafford to take shots down the field to Green and Mohamed Massaquoi. Kris Durham also returns from his ankle injury to give the Dawgs a boost.
Like Georgia, LSU has had problems shutting down the passing game this year. Stafford has the weapons to take advantage of that. But to do so effectively, I believe Georgia needs to get Knowshon in gear early and often.
If the "big three" can show up "big time," then I expect to see UGA upset the Tigers.
2) The defense doesn’t allow LSU’s two-headed quarterback to look like JPW...
It really is time for the Georgia defense to put it all together. Injuries have hurt the defensive line and the linebackers, but injuries happen.
Willie Martinez has got to find a way to dial up some pressure on the LSU quarterback. Too many times this year the opposing quarterback has had all day to survey the field and pick UGA apart. Was that JPW or Joe Willie Namath?
Martinez must make some changes and get pressure on the QB. I would also suggest (although I have not been asked) that we tell Brian Evans to take a seat and see what the youngsters can do. Evans always seems to be so close, but he never seems to make a play.
Get some pressure on the QB, force an interception or two, and Georgia will be in good shape.
Georgia will lose if...
1) LSU can shut down Knowshon and the toss sweep.
Now don’t tell Justin this, but UGA ran the toss sweep 24 times in the past two games. In those two games, Knowshon averaged eight yards per carry when he ran the sweep.
This play has almost been unstoppable. If LSU finds a way to shut it down and keeps Knowshon in check, it could be a long night for the Dawgs.
Matthew Stafford has plenty of weapons to throw to, but the balanced offense has kept them moving the ball consistently all year. That balance is needed on Saturday.
2) Georgia’s young offensive line plays like they did against Alabama.
This offensive line has been shuffled more than a deck of cards in Las Vegas. But for the most part, they have protected Stafford long enough for him to find his target.
Injuries have also plagued this line. If Georgia is to put together a late season run this year, the offensive line needs to grow up fast.
The offensive line has improved since the Alabama game. They need to keep that trend going. If they stumble in this game, Georgia won’t get out of Baton Rouge with a win.
1) Mark Richt, the road warrior.
This is just the type of game that Georgia has thrived in the past few seasons. It has been documented many times, but it is always worth examining.
As the head coach at Georgia, Mark Richt is an amazing 27-4 on an opponent’s home field. Most of Georgia’s really big, memorable wins seem to come on the road.
For whatever reason—less distraction, a magnified sense of unity, a stronger focus, or just a different routine—Georgia just seems to get it done on the road.
2) The Stacy Searels factor.
Georgia offensive line coach Stacey Searels coached the LSU offensive line from 2003-2006. Three of LSU’s starters on the offensive line played for him.
Georgia’s defensive linemen have tapped into that resource. Strengths, weaknesses, and techniques have been discussed with Searels.
Most of you will shrug this one off, but any advantage could be big in this game.
This could truly be an "X-Factor" to watch.
Georgia and LSU have met four times since 2003.
LSU won both contests in 2003, winning in Baton Rouge 17-10 and then taking the SEC Championship, beating the Dawgs 34-13 at the Georgia Dome.
Georgia then returned the favor, beating the Tigers in Athens in 2004, 45-16. Georgia followed up that win by beating the Tigers in the SEC Championship game in 2005, 34-14.
I know this will come as a surprise to most of you, but I really feel good about this game.
I have mentioned several of those reasons. But two things jump out at me.
First, LSU is dead last in the SEC in red zone defense. Georgia can take advantage of that if they move the ball the way they have all year (say it with me...except for the first half of the Bama game).
Secondly, LSU has had as much trouble shutting down the pass as Georgia has. Matthew Stafford, if given the time, will be able to exploit that weakness.
Many people feel this will be a close one, and they are probably right. I would not be surprised to see a high scoring game. Much is on the line and anything can happen.
My Prediction: Georgia 26, LSU 20
To get a Tigers view of the game click here, and that LSU fanatic Justin Goar will fill you in.