Published December 2, 2011 - 9:31am
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The Weirdest SEC Championship Ever?
Does anybody care that a 12-0 LSU team is about to butt heads with a Georgia team riding a 10 game win streak? Does it matter that LSU is the third consecutive SEC West team to pull off an undefeated regular season? Where is the appreciation for Richt pulling his team from the abyss after two gut-wrenching losses to open the season? Saturday should be serving as the marquee conference championship game for the NCAA. Instead, it feels more like a circus side show than a pairing of the best teams from America’s best conference.
Nobody outside of the SEC really seems to care about the outcome. Actually, probably no one outside of LSU or Georgia have a vested interest in this game. Whether LSU wins or loses, they are expected to be a participant in the BCS title game. A Georgia win caps off a season where Mark Richt proved once again that he is one of the best coaches in the SEC. Yet, that isn’t generating any real buzz. Really, the whole affair is being made a non factor thanks to the 2011 version of the BCS.
Why isn’t the SEC championship important this year? Because #2 Alabama will be sitting in Tuscaloosa watching two teams battle over a conference crown that doesn’t matter in 2011. It doesn’t matter because the BCS has made it an unnecessary requirement for a national championship. The steaming hot mess that is the 2011 BCS championship could pair two teams that failed to win their conference (Alabama, LSU). Yet, polls and computers will say they are the best. Shouldn’t the best win their conference crown?
Another reason the SEC Championship isn’t important is because it seems there is more interest in who will be the Tiger’s opponent in their next game. A tidal wave of opposition for a LSU-Bama rematch is swelling around the SEC… Mike Slive and the SEC would love part deux, but, everyone else is pulling for Oklahoma State to skull drag Oklahoma in the Bedlam game. Same goes for Virginia Tech against Clemson. Those games actually matter more because they could sway voters to knock down the Tide and push a one loss conference champion into the title game against LSU. There will be a lot of drama on Saturday. Unfortunately, it will be emanating from the ACC and Big 12, not the SEC.
For those of you that care…
Here is the tale of the tape.
Average Offensive Ranks of Opponents:
Average Defensive Ranks of Opponents:
Rushing Yards allowed per Game:
Passing Yards allowed per Game:
Pass Offense per Game:
LSU- 176, 21 TD
UGA- 255, 34 TD
Rushing Offense per Game:
LSU- 215 YPG, 32TD
UGA- 180 YPG, 15TD
Both – 32
Tackles for Loss:
Tackles for Loss Allowed:
Punt and Kick Return yards Allowed:
LSU- POINT 46 , 19.96
UGA- 14.3 , 23.79
Penalties per Game:
LSU- 73, 597 yards
UGA- 72, 562 yards
On paper, UGA, matches up against LSU as well as anybody has all year. The biggest contrast between the two teams is the number of turnovers and tackles for loss. Both teams are great at causing them, but LSU is clearly better at preventing them. In a game where both teams match up well, this could be the straw that breaks the Dawg’s back. LSU also enjoys a distinct advantage in the return game. LSU has won the field position battle by not allowing the big return and has only allowed 6 punt return yards all year for an unbelievable .46 yard per return average. UGA has been softer, yielding over 14 yards per return. In a game between two good defenses, this is the difference between making field goals and missing them.
It would be easy to say that Aaron Murray will present the sternest test to date for the Tiger secondary. Does it mean anything? Darron Thomas, Geno Smith, and Tyler Wilson were all supposed to take the Tigers down a notch as well. They all lost. Eventually they succumbed to the same combination of endless depth and the relentless pressure of the LSU defense that killed every other team this season. Saturday won’t be any different, regardless of the outside world’s interest in the game.
LSU is also going to use its depth on offense to wear down the Dawgs. LSU’s arsenal at running back is just as relentless as the freaks on defense. Whether it is Ware, Ford, Blue, or Hilliard, the Tigers are just going to keep punching for four quarters. Forget 4 quarters; Les Miles has stockpiled enough quality depth along the line and in the backfield to play at least 16 quarters every Saturday. No one has stopped it this season, but if Georgia needs a goal for success it is 150. In the past two seasons, LSU is 23-2. In the two losses, LSU didn’t reach 150 yards rushing. This may be its best shot, because it will limit the time that LSU’s pile driver of an offense is on the field, giving Mr. Murray more shots to pull off the upset.
However, that is much easier said than done. LSU is in Atlanta to take care of business. Georgia will have a say in the matter for much of the game, but LSU will pull away in the fourth.
Take note, this might be the last time we see Reuben Randle in an SEC game. The junior is quietly climbing up the draft boards and could be a first round pick in the 2012 draft. Eric Reid will also be healthy for the game, making the LSU defense that much tougher for the Dawgs.