Georgia football: 5 advantages the Dawgs will have over LSU in SEC Championship
On paper, the SEC Championship could be a blowout in favor of LSU against Georgia. But will it actually turn out that way?
For one, Vegas didn’t think so as of Sunday afternoon.
LSU (-6) vs. Georgia in 2019 SEC Championship Game; Over/Under set at 56.5 via @CircaSports
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) December 1, 2019
While I can’t advise you how you should handle those numbers (or whether you should be betting in the first place rather than spending it on some nice Christmas gifts for your family), I can, though, help you find a few matchups that the Dawgs might have against the Tigers, who enter with the potential Heisman Trophy front-runner and one of the country’s most potent offenses.
Here are 5 advantages Georgia will have over LSU when they meet Saturday for the conference crown:
A vastly better run defense
So many words have been written about Georgia’s run defense that it’s almost redundant to bring it up once again.
The thing is, LSU’s rushing defense isn’t mind-bogglingly terrible itself. Sure, it let Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and running back Jerrion Ealy roll up 353 yards, while Plumlee took it into the end zone 4 times. (By the way, the Tigers won 58-37.) Outside of that, the most it’s given up is 146 yards against Florida — on 40 carries, at that.
Georgia has held 9 of its 12 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing; 6 teams couldn’t top 50. And it’s allowed just 1 rushing touchdown to LSU’s 11. Discussion over.
A better time of possession number
If Georgia is to win, it has to keep Joe Burrow and the LSU offense off the field. Part of that is sustaining drives, and, of course, turning those sustained drives into points.
The Dawgs’ offense has an average time of possession of 32 minutes and 56 seconds, 13th in FBS. LSU is at 29 minutes and 49 seconds, but it’s also averaging 7.9 yards per play.
Obviously, if Burrow and his troops aren’t on the field, they can’t get nearly 8 yards per play in the first place, so Jake Fromm and the Georgia offense will need to drag the game out, which will, eventually, wear down the LSU defense.
That’s been Georgia’s recipe most of the season.
A passing defense that’s largely been able to limit opposing quarterbacks
If you look at how quarterbacks have fared against Georgia’s defense, you’ll notice something: Nobody has gashed them.
Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond and Notre Dame’s Ian Book each finished with 275 yards but combined for just 3 touchdowns; in Mond’s case, a good bit of his production came in the 4th quarter. And against Tennessee, Georgia allowed 273 yards from Brian Maurer, but 73 of those yards were on a 1st-quarter play as he was handled the rest of the game.
Georgia has only allowed 11 TD passes all season. That’s 3rd-fewest in the SEC.
Joe Burrow (4,366 yards, 44 TDs) represents a whole new challenge. He’s averaging better than 360 yards and 3.7 TDs per game.
Georgia can consider it a victory if they hold him to fewer than 300 yards and 2 or 3 TDs.
An offensive line that’s kept Jake Fromm upright for most of the year
LSU has shown a bit of a knack for getting to the QB: It has recorded a respectable 30 sacks this season (Georgia has 26), with JaCoby Stevens leading the way with 5.0. It took down Kellen Mond 5 times in its win over Texas A&M as the normally mobile quarterback couldn’t find anywhere to go.
On the other side, Jake Fromm has been sacked only 9 times all season—3 times against South Carolina. That’s pretty impressive. And the same will ring true Saturday: It’s just a matter of whether Fromm can make the most of that clean pocket and be able to pick out his targets.
An ability to keep teams off the scoreboard
LSU’s offense has been electrifying. Its fortunes at preventing other teams from scoring? Not so much. Sure, it held A&M to 7 points in Death Valley, but it’s the same group that gave up 38 points to Vanderbilt, a mark the Commodores didn’t reach until a Week 11 matchup with East Tennessee State.
It might struggle a bit with Georgia, which has yet to give up more than 20 points all year. Granted, the Tigers offense is much, much different, but the Dawgs will go in knowing that they haven’t yet had a team run up the score on them.