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Ten Games That Will Shape the SEC: No. 6 -- LSU at Georgia

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The Game: LSU Tigers at Georgia Bulldogs, Oct. 3

What's at Stake: Staying afloat. Both of these teams are in division races where they can't afford more than one conference loss. While this would be perhaps the easiest loss for either of them to get over -- after all, it likely wouldn't play into divisional standings -- it would erase their margin of error. A loss could be more dangerous for LSU than Georgia; with the possibility of Florida losing two conference games being closer to none than to slim, the Dawgs probably have to beat the Gators one way or another. LSU, meanwhile, is in a race with two and perhaps three other teams. Tiebreakers in the SEC West will be murkier and best avoided by losing as few league games as possible. 

Where It Falls on LSU's Schedule: Their toughest game to date. After a trip out west to Washington, LSU comes home to play Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Lafayette before trips to Starkville and Athens. It also precedes the battle with Florida. After playing the Gators, LSU gets a bye before facing Auburn and Tulane in Baton Rouge before running the season-ending gauntlet of at Alabama, (vs. Louisiana Tech), at Ole Miss, vs. Arkansas.

Where It Falls on Georgias's Schedule: Yet another game in the opening season without end for the Dawgs. The showdown with the Bayou Bengals comes after at Oklahoma State, vs. South Carolina, at Arkansas, vs. Arizona State and vs. LSU. The schedule lets up a little after this game, if by "letting up" you mean at Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, bye, vs. Florida, vs. Tennessee Tech, vs. Auburn, vs. Kentucky and at Georgia Tech.

What Happened This Past Season: The 2008 edition of LSU became the first to give up 50 points twice in a single season when Georgia waxed the Tigers 52-38 two weeks after Florida dismantled them 51-21. LSU actually outgained Georgia by 54 yards despite a 163-yard day from Knowshon Moreno. But Jarrett Lee, true to form, tossed five TDs -- two of them for the other team as part of a three-interception day.

What Will Decide the Game This Year: Defense. Last year's game was notable for the lack of any real effort to stop the other side from scoring. In additon to the 90 points, the teams combined for a Big XII-esque 940 yards of offense. It's hard to see that happening again, with Georgia boasting a strong front seven and LSU introducing the John Chavis regime.

LSU Will Probably Win If ... Jordan Jefferson really is as good as everyone thinks he is and the Tigers don't fall too far behind. LSU's chances are much better if RB Charles Scott can help keep the Bengals in the game than if they have to go to the air too quickly.

Georgia Will Probably Win If ... That front seven is really as good as it looks. Just as LSU's shot at winning increases with Scott making his yards, Georgia's odds are more favorable if they can shut the running game down and make Jefferson win the game.

Conclusion: I like Georgia just a little better in this game than LSU; they have a more veteran offensive line and need fewer things to go just right on defense. The wild card is whether Georgia will be able to get through September with its players and attitude intact. If the Dawgs' season gets off to a disastrous 1-3 start or a so-so 2-2 launch, the advantage tilts back to LSU.


No. 7 -- South Carolina at Georgia
No. 8 -- Tennessee at Florida
No. 9 -- Auburn at Tennesee
No. 10 -- Kentucky at Vanderbilt