The numbers suggest Les Miles will be victorious in the Georgia Dome once again.
Because the big game this Saturday is coming at the end of the season, I can drag my score projection method back out to come up with an estimate for the contest. I use it mainly during bowl season, and it's not too bad at what it does.
The method is similar to what I used in the post on Georgia's progress under Todd Grantham from earlier this week. The only thing I exclude this time though is data from games against I-AA games. As relatively meaningless as the stats from Georgia's blowout of New Mexico State and LSU's blowout of Western Kentucky are, I've found from past bowl seasons that including them to increase the sample size is better than not.
So anyway, I determine on average how each team's offense and defense perform relative to their opponents' season averages. For instance, Georgia scored 31.73 points per game this season. Its opponents allowed on average 25.08 points per game. So, Georgia scored 6.65 points per game more than the average team would have against the same schedule.
I did the same thing for both points and yards for Georgia's defense and LSU's offense and defense. When you combine those figures with the teams' season averages, you actually get two different score and yardage projections. For instance, take LSU's offensive average of 37.18 and subtract Georgia's defensive average of allowing 6.02 points per game less than opponents average and you get LSU scoring 31.16 points. But then, take Georgia's defensive average of allowing 19.36 points per game and add the 13.65 points per game that LSU averages above what its opponents allow and you get the Tigers scoring 33.01 points. I average the two projections in each category together then to get the final results.
At the very end of the process, I have LSU defeating Georgia 32-17 with the Bulldogs outgaining the Tigers 321-319. Such an outcome isn't out of the realm of possibility given that LSU was outgained in each of its wins against Oregon, West Virginia and Alabama. These projections suggest that Georgia will hold its own, but the better team will come out ahead in the end.
If you're interested, here are the figures for how the two teams' offenses and defenses differ compared to their opponents' season averages. Keep in mind that the scoring component is more than just about the offenses and defenses because the NCAA includes all kinds of scoring into those figures, e.g. a punt return touchdown counts as "scoring offense".
LSU offense: scores 13.65 PPG more than average; gains 34.66 YPG more than average
LSU defense: allows 15.80 PPG less than average; allows 101.41 YPG less than average
Georgia offense: scores 6.65 PPG more than average; gains 61.51 YPG more than average
Georgia defense: allows 6.02 PPG less than average; allows 66.55 YPG less than average