It’s not the matchup everyone expected to see when the 2022 season started.

Georgia – well, we expected these Dawgs would be there. But LSU? Not a chance. Media picked the Tigers to finish 5th in the SEC West. Vegas projected the Tigers to win 7 games.

LSU survived the conference and now will try to keep Georgia from winning its first conference championship since 2017.

On paper, Georgia is far and away a favorite in this game. Odds say this game is going toward the Dawgs, and it won’t be close.

But there are a handful of reasons the Tigers might keep this game close.

Here are 3.

1. Georgia OL vs. Harold Perkins, Jr.

If you’re looking for a reason LSU might be able to get to Georgia, this is it.

Perkins, a freshman, has become the biggest difference-maker for the Tigers, in not the SEC

This season, the linebacker has recorded 59 total tackles and 7.5 sacks.

Can Perkins create a strip-sack? Can his pressure off the edge hurry Stetson Bennett into a poor throw and interception? Perkins’ pressure — and those scenarios — are a crucial step in giving LSU a chance Saturday.

The Georgia offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack in 5 games and has allowed just 7 overall. Only Oregon has allowed fewer sacks this season.

So, here’s the thing. The Georgia offense can get into a groove. It has struggled near the goal line in getting touchdowns, but as far as moving the ball, it’s among the best in the country. LSU’s best chance in stopping the Dawgs is Harold Perkins (and BJ Ojulari) affecting Bennett IV in the pocket.

Good luck.

2. Jayden Daniels vs. Jayden Daniels’ ankle

We love LSU’s quarterback Jayden Daniels here.

Daniels is the Tigers’ leading passer (obviously) and rusher this season, recording over 2,500 yards passing and 824 yards rushing. The rushing total not only is a single-season program record for a QB but it’s 194 yards shy of Jordan Jefferson’s career rushing record for an LSU QB.

Kayshon Boutte gets draft love, but Daniels is LSU’s best offensive player.

So, what happens if Daniels isn’t quite 100 percent?

It seems as if his ankle injury in last week’s game against Texas A&M is nothing to worry about – coach Brian Kelly expected him to participate in practice this week – but what if?

What if the ankle isn’t 100 percent? What if, instead of being one of the SEC’s best quarterback running threats, he is instead forced to be a pocket passer against one of the top defenses in the entire country?

The answer is not a good one for LSU.

We don’t know what his ankle injury is exactly – but if it’s anything worse than we’re being led to believe, then the Tigers have an incredibly uphill climb.

3. Georgia DBs vs. big plays

Here’s the thing: Driving 80 yards against Georgia isn’t a repeatable strategy. LSU will attempt to create an explosive play.

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The question is, how does Georgia’s defense respond to having their backs against the wall?

Georgia’s defense has been incredibly stout all year, however, it has been susceptible to a big pass play. The Dawgs have allowed 10 completions covering 40 yards or more. That’s in the bottom fourth of the country.

The deep ball isn’t exactly LSU’s forte, however. For all of their athleticism on the outside, the Tigers have only completed 7 such passes. Daniels only has 5.

This doesn’t mean LSU won’t try for a quick strike, much less reel off a series of big plays. It just means that this matchup is going to come into focus and the Dawgs are going to have to limit what kind of impact the LSU passing game has.