Say goodbye to "SEC defense". Georgia and LSU might have buried it for the year with their 44-41 shootout between the hedges this afternoon.
This game was the long-awaited showdown between former roommates Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, and they did not disappoint. Metteberger had the cleaner line, going 23/37 for 372 yards (10.1 per pass) and three TDs with no INTs. Murray was 20/34 for 298 yards (8.8 per pass) with four TDs and one INT. Both lived up to the billing and helped keep this one tight throughout.
The workhorse for Georgia ended up being Keith Marshall, as Todd Gurley went out early with an ankle injury. He wouldn't return, but Marshall held up well with just under 100 yards on 20 carries. On the other side, Georgia's defense kept LSU's rushing attack well in check. The Tigers had just 13 yards on the ground through two quarters, and the backs collectively had just 110 yards on the game. It was a strong showing for a defense that otherwise bled yards and points through the air badly.
It looked late like Mettenberger was going to complete the storybook comeback drive, as he led the Tigers down the field 75 yards for a TD. The drive included a beautiful throw to pick up a 3rd-and-23, even. The LSU defense, which to date had looked good but looked every bit as young and inexperienced as it is today, couldn't hold. Murray needed just six plays to answer and retake the lead, perhaps putting his reputation for underwhelming in big games to rest for good.
Georgia is now in terrific shape in the East, having won its two tough early games over South Carolina and LSU. If you believe the Gamecocks are their primary competition still, they can lose to Florida and still be in line to go to Atlanta. As for LSU, this game doesn't change a whole lot about their chances in the West. They can't lose to Florida and be OK, however, but they still control their destiny.
This is apparently what SEC football is in 2013. After Bama-A&M, UGA-South Carolina, and now UGA-LSU, it's a conference of high profile, high-scoring shootouts. Welcome to the other side of the looking glass.