On Saturday, Georgia will line up against LSU in the SEC Championship Game. It is a matchup, perhaps, that few expected earlier in the season.

Alabama was far and away the favorite in the SEC West. Ole Miss, maybe, could make a run. LSU, though? With a new coach sporting a new southern accent?

Not likely.

But here we are. Unlikely as it is, the Tigers are here. Their chances of topping the Dawgs on Saturday, however?


Crazier things have happened, and we certainly can’t rule out the possibility. But here are 5 reasons you should expect the Dawgs to roll.

1. The Dawgs’ pass protection is top tier

One of the best potential advantages LSU could have in this game is its pair of pass rushers in Harold Perkins Jr. and BJ Ojulari. The 2 have combined for 12.5 sacks and have generally been a pest for opposing offenses in the 2nd half of the season.

But the Dawgs aren’t your typical offense, and I don’t envision either of these players having a major impact on the final score on Saturday.

Why’s that?

Because the Dawgs just don’t allow sacks. Only 1 team in the country, Oregon, has allowed fewer sacks than Georgia. The Dawgs have allowed 7 all year, and none in their past 5 games. The last sack they allowed came on Oct. 15 against Vanderbilt.

The reason is a combination of elite protection up front and a quarterback in Stetson Bennett IV who can escape and extend plays with his legs. Rarely is he in a position to have to take a sizable loss in the pocket.

And when the Dawgs aren’t playing behind the sticks, they’re usually moving the ball with great efficiency.

2. Jalen Carter is going to make life miserable for Jayden Daniels

On the flip side, the Dawgs aren’t one of the country’s best pass-rushing teams. But the Tigers have had enormous trouble protecting quarterback Daniels throughout the year.

They’re among the worst nationally in sacks allowed with 41.

The last time they faced a defense with the kind of athletes that Georgia has — in a 32-31 win over Alabama — the Tigers allowed 6 sacks. They were able to come out with a victory despite the constant pressure thanks to a big game from Daniels. But that can’t be the expectation again on Saturday.

Not against a defense that is more complete than the one the Crimson Tide have.

Carter had his best game of the season against an elite passer and capable runner in Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker. The nose tackle is the difference maker for Georgia, which may not record 6 takedowns of Daniels but will undoubtedly be in his face often.

If LSU struggles to keep Daniels upright, it’s going to be a long day and an uphill battle for that offense.

3. Brock Bowers is about to go nuts

Opposing defenses have actually done a really solid job of defending Georgia’s star tight end over the past few weeks. He has caught 15 passes in the past 4 games, but those have amounted to just 98 receiving yards.

On Saturday, though, the Dawgs will be playing inside the climate-controlled Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A passing offense that has been relatively quiet in the past 2 weeks will have an opportunity to open things up in more friendly confines.

Bowers will be target No. 1 for Bennett, and I expect him to be a constant factor in the passing game. Kenny McIntosh, who was huge in this stadium in Georgia’s season-opening win over Oregon, also has an opportunity for a banger.

4. LSU isn’t playing for a playoff spot anymore

Look, I know a lot of you think LSU has a ton to play for still in this game. And rightly so. The SEC Championship isn’t nothing, and I’m sure a lot of these players are still motivated.

But let’s be real.

This is a team that thought it might be going to the College Football Playoff before it laid an egg against Texas A&M last week. You know how difficult it is to keep young players focused when they’ve had their primary source of motivation stripped away at the last second?

There’s a reason so many teams that just miss out on the Playoff go on to perform poorly in their bowl games.

Am I saying LSU isn’t going to show up? No, of course not. But the opportunity to make the CFP or to play spoiler for Georgia’s CFP chances is an incredible edge that the Tigers no longer have. And against a team like Georgia, they needed every advantage they could get.

5. It’s a big game, so expect the Dawgs to show up

Georgia hasn’t been the most elite team we’ve ever seen this season. There are games where it will sleepwalk through the 1st half or make a couple of late turnovers or penalties that allow a team to stick around a little longer than it should.

Call it youth. Maybe growing pains. Whatever it is, Georgia has struggled with it.

With that said, when it comes to big games, the Dawgs have shown up and looked as dominant as anyone. Week 1 vs. No. 11 Oregon — blowout, 49-3; vs. No. 1 Tennessee — no contest in a 27-13 win that could have looked much worse; vs. a South Carolina team that has proven to be pretty good — 49-7, never close.

Georgia is at its absolute best when a good opponent lines up across from it. Despite the loss last week, LSU is definitely a good opponent.

Expect the Dawgs to bite on Saturday. And hard.