SEC Championship Game: 5 Ways Georgia Could Upset LSU
With all of the attention that has so righteously been heaped upon Southeastern Conference powerhouses Louisiana State and Alabama, the fact that Georgia has won 10 consecutive games has gone somewhat unnoticed.
Sure, the opposition hasn't exactly been fierce every week, but the Bulldogs have gotten it done. And the truth is, Florida, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State each only may be 6-6, but each also is expected to play in a bowl game. Plus, during this run Georgia has handled its two ranked foes—then-No. 20 Auburn and then-No. 23 Georgia Tech—in a convincing manner, winning the two games by a combined score of 76-24.
I'm not here to tell you the Bulldogs will beat LSU later today in the SEC Championship Game. No, I think anyone who ever has doubted the Tigers—be it against Oregon on a neutral field, at West Virginia, at Alabama or hosting red-hot Arkansas—has learned the error of their ways.
Now, can Georgia pull off the upset?
Yeah, it can.
The possibility may be no more than 10 percent, and many would argue that is a generous number, but few would give the Bulldogs absolutely no chance.
Here are five ways Georgia gives itself the best chance to leave Atlanta with the title "SEC champion."
Jarvis Jones Takes over
LSU may have the nation's best defense (though the folks in Tuscaloosa may disagree), but on Saturday afternoon, Georgia may have the best NFL prospect on the defensive side of the ball.
A transfer from USC, Jarvis Jones is a 6'3", 241-pound athletic marvel at outside linebacker.
Entering the SEC Championship Game, the draft-eligible third-year sophomore has 13.5 sacks in 2011, just a half-a-sack fewer than the Bulldogs' single-season record held by former All-American defensive end (now ESPN analyst) David Pollack. Four of those sacks came against Florida while lined up against future NFL offensive tackle Xavier Nixon.
If Jones can disrupt LSU's offense and perhaps force a turnover or two, he gives Georgia its best chance to pull off an upset.
Brandon Boykin Busts One
Only one player in SEC history—former Florida waterbug Brandon James—has more career kickoff-return yardage than Georgia's Brandon Boykin.
A cornerback by trade, Boykin has 2,544 return yards and is a threat to break loose every time he touches the ball.
If he can get the Bulldogs a special-teams touchdown, it gives them that much more of a chance to pull off the improbable.
Spread the Ball
While most of the talk regarding the SEC this season has centered on defense, two quarterbacks have established themselves as being among the best at their position in college football.
Last week, LSU was able to slow Tyler Wilson and the Arkansas Air Show, allowing just 207 passing yards. This Saturday, the test is Georgia's Aaron Murray.
A Tampa native, Murray has seen four different Bulldogs' receivers or tight ends—Marlon Brown, Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell and Orson Charles—have 100-yard receiving games in 2011.
One player isn't going to beat the Tigers' vaunted defense, so spreading the ball around might be the best bet.
Don't Let the Defensive Backs Become Playmakers
Here is a crazy stat: LSU's secondary has allowed six passing touchdowns in 2011, and LSU's secondary has scored six touchdowns in 2011.
Leading the way is the "Honey Badger," Tyrann Mathieu.
One of the front-runners for the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award, Mathieu has three of those scores.
Meanwhile, Ron Brooks has two touchdowns, and Morris Claiborne, the best NFL prospect of the group, has one.
Mathieu also has forced 11 fumbles in his 24-game college career, tying the SEC record held by former Florida safety Guss Scott. The "Honey Badger" needs to cause three more fumbles to tie the NCAA record shared by former Arizona State and current Baltimore Ravens standout Terrell Suggs and three others.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray cannot allow the Tigers secondary to become playmakers.
Blair Walsh Steps Up
Entering the 2011 campaign, numerous publications listed Georgia placekicker Blair Walsh as preseason All-American.
The year hasn't gone exactly the way Walsh would have hoped, and he enters the SEC Championship Game a mere 18-of-29 on field goal attempts. That includes going just 9-of-13 between 30 and 39 yards and 3-of-7 between 40 and 49 yards.
Walsh has talent, and one big game against LSU could erase what has been a somewhat forgettable senior season.