LSU vs. Georgia: Breaking Down the SEC Championship Game
The LSU Tigers will meet the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday in the SEC Championship Game, and fans can’t help but ask if the Bulldogs have a chance.
If you’ve made it to the SEC Championship, that’s an accomplishment in itself. The fact that the SEC champion has won the last five national championships speaks volumes about the talent and coaching staffs in the league.
So the fact that the Bulldogs are in this championship game proves that they are a tough, durable football team, but look at what LSU has been able to accomplish this season.
Besides a Houston team that plays the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Tigers are the only undefeated team left remaining, and they’ve defeated seven ranked teams while outscoring every opponent this season by an average of 28 points.
There’s only been one team to challenge the Tigers and give them a close game and that’s been Alabama. Will the Bulldogs be able to challenge the Tigers or be blown out like everyone who hasn't worn crimson?
These are the matchups and storylines that will decide the 2011 SEC champion.
Can Georgia Stop LSU’s Rushing Attack?
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This has become the story of the Tigers’ season. Not only does LSU play suffocating defense, but their rushing attack has trampled opponents.
Led by the four horsemen (I'm giving them that nickname as I type), the Tigers have four running backs that have over six rushing touchdowns. They’re all running as if it’s the first couple of weeks in the season because of the four-man rotation Les Miles and his staff have used all year.
They all have fresh legs, and they wear defenses down until the defense can’t stop a nosebleed in the fourth quarter.
Thankfully for the Bulldogs, they can stop the run. They haven’t played the same quality opponents that the Tigers have played, but their defense has played outstanding this season.
They’re coming off of limiting Georgia Tech to 355 total yards, while the Tigers are coming off of a 286-yard rushing performance against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Something has to give, and if the Bulldogs want to have any shot against LSU, they have to stop the run.
Will Aaron Murray Fall Victim to the Tigers’ Amazing Secondary
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Aaron Murray is one of the brightest quarterbacks in college football, and he has an arm that has won Georgia many football games this season.
Through 12 games, he’s thrown 32 touchdowns, 2,698 yards and he’s only thrown 10 interceptions, but he’s never faced a defense like LSU’s.
LSU’s defensive line can get pressure on any quarterback in the nation and force them to rush throws. Rushing throws is exactly what you don’t want to do against this defense because of their ability to cause turnovers with that amazing secondary.
You might have heard about the Honey Badger and his friends who have caused 27 turnovers in 12 games.
Tharold Simon is a shutdown corner, Tyrann Mathieu strips balls and creates havoc, Mo Claiborne intercepts passes and Brandon Taylor is a tackling machine.
Oh, and don’t forget about the return of Eric Reid. Reid was injured against the Ole Miss Rebels, and the Tigers were able to shut down the Hogs' lethal passing attack last week without Reid in the secondary.
Murray might be an outstanding quarterback, but I’m beginning to think that no passing attack will fare well against this talented group.
Jordan Jefferson’s ability To Perform Better in Big Games
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Jordan Jefferson has silenced every naysayer out there including myself this season. He’s played big for the Tigers this season when he needed to, and I give tons of credit to quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Kragthorpe has a knack for bringing out the best in his quarterbacks and he’s certainly done that this season.
Perhaps the thing that impresses me the most about Jefferson, not only this season but his whole career, is his ability to play great football in big games.
Think back to the game he had against Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl when he was a freshman or the first game of the season last year against North Carolina or the Cotton Bowl game against Texas A&M last season.
All were great performances when the lights were shining bright. Oh, and those games against Georgia Tech and North Carolina were played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. What about the games he played against Alabama this year and last?
Let’s face it, Jefferson plays great in big moments, and he’s won me over this season with his improved play. He still has though nagging problems like holding the ball too long and locking down his primary target that make Tiger fans hold their breath, but he’s improved dramatically.
Who’s to say Jefferson doesn’t come up big in Atlanta again?
From Hot Seat to Hot Topic
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Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t both of these head coaches on the hot seat before the season? Aren’t these the same coaches who have been ridiculed the past couple of seasons and have been placed on everyone’s hot seat?
Well, look at them now. We’ve all heard it in the past: Les Miles can’t manage the clock and doesn’t put the best athletes on the field and Mark Richt has constantly underachieved with all the talent he possesses.
Fast-forward 12 games later and Miles has put the best athletes on the field this season and he hasn’t had to worry about managing the clock because of all the blowouts, and Richt’s Bulldogs are playing in the SEC Championship.
Both coaches are class acts, not like the Bobby Petrinos of the league, and I couldn’t be happier for both guys’ success.
They put the student-athletes first in everything they do, and they are beloved by their players. Look for both coaches to pull out all the stops in hopes of gaining another SEC Championship.
History in the SEC Championship Game
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Both of these teams have played each other before in the SEC Championship Game, and both games have been blowouts.
Back in 2003, the Tigers met the Bulldogs, and the Bulldogs went into the game not giving up a 100-yard rushing performance all season long.
They came out of the game still not giving up a 100-yard rushing performance, because Justin Vincent went for over 200 yards rushing.
The Tigers put a whooping on the Dawgs 34-13, but when the two met in 2005, the roles were reversed.
The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 34-14. In another championship game that has the Tigers looking nearly invincible, is another blowout victory in the horizon?