It’s all on the line today!
The SEC Championship Game is set to go down in Atlanta. In one corner are the undefeated LSU Tigers. Led by Joe Burrow, his all-star trio of wide receivers, and a stingy defense led by Derek Stingley Jr. and Grant Delpit, the Tigers have raced through the tough SEC West and emerged victorious in every game they played this year.
In the other corner are the Georgia Bulldogs. While the Dawgs suffered an unfortunate loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks earlier this year, they’re still in prime position to thieve the SEC Championship away from LSU and a CFB Playoff spot from the Big 12 Champion. They bring with them one of the nation’s best defenses, and perhaps one of the best ground games in the nation.
We’ve got a roundtable preview down the way, but before we get there, let’s give you the quick and dirty on the basics for this game.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
Spread: LSU -7
Moneyline: LSU -265 | Georgia +215
1. Georgia’s pass defense is one of the best in the country, allowing 186 passing yards per game. The last time that Joe Burrow didn’t have over 300 yards was in the game against Florida, when he had 293. Do you think he eclipses the 300-yard mark against the Dawgs?
Chris Novak: The O/U is currently set at 315.5 at one casino in the New Jersey/Philly area. So, like. Yeah. I do think he does go over 300 and I do think he goes over that 315.5-yard mark.
Michael McMurray: Burrow is throwing for an average of 130 more yards than his opponents allowed per game this season. He’s faced tough defenses before and while this Georgia defense is a different beast, I don’t see this game being any different. He eclipses 300.
Sean O’Leary: I do think he passes it, but it will be very close. This Georgia defense is arguably the best in the country, and the best Burrow has faced. We won’t see the offensive explosion like we did against Texas A&M, but LSU’s offense will be fine.
Julian Mitchell: He throws for 300, but under 350. Georgia’s defense is elite, but I think Burrow hits 300 because the ground game won’t be able do much against UGA’s front seven.
Robert O’Neill: I think he gets over 300. Georgia’s defense is good, but Burrow and LSU’s WRs are probably the best in the nation.
2. LSU has held every team except for Ole Miss to under 150 yards on the ground. Given that Georgia has hit over 150 yards rushing in every game but three this year, will the Dawgs keep that trend going? Or will LSU’s run defense keep them contained?
Chris Novak: I will say under 150. They’ll come close. Figure around 140 or so. But I don’t think they’ll get 150. I think LSU’s group will come to play and keep them in check. Bold maybe. But I think it happens.
Michael McMurray: D’Andre Swift is banged up but will play. The question is how close to 100% will he be. The only time LSU got torched on the ground was when John Rhys Plumlee was doing most of the damage. Fromm is athletic, but nowhere near as fast as Plumlee. I think Georgia will rush for about 100 yards this game.
Sean O’Leary: I think so. D’Andre Swift will play, which gives Georgia a good shot. Not to mention Brian Herrien and Zamir White. We saw what Ole Miss and John Rhys Plumlee did to LSU’s run defense, and Georgia’s running attack is better.
Julian Mitchell: Georgia rushes for over 150. They just have too many good backs not to. I have a strange feeling James Cook will have his long-awaited breakout performance in this game. Kirby is from the Saban school of lightly utilizing weapons until the postseason. Think OJ Howard.
Robert O’Neill: Even with Swift being banged up, Georgia probably gets over 150 rushing yards. LSU’s defense hasn’t always been great this year and they give up chunk plays. It won’t matter in the long run, but yeah.
3. What do you feel is the biggest individual/position group matchup in this game? (i.e, LSU’s WRs vs. Georgia’s DBs, Georgia’s RBs vs. LSU’s DL, etc.)
Chris Novak: LSU’s WRs against the Georgia DBs. LSU has so much strength at that position and because of how well Burrow has played, it, to me, is the biggest matchup in the game. Burrow’s been amazing all year long and the receivers have as well. But if UGA can keep them down a peg, which is no easy task, then they can shift things in their direction. That being said, this is their biggest test yet.
Michael McMurray: I think it will be the LSU front 7 vs. the Georgia OL. Georgia’s only given up 9 sacks all year, 3 of which came against South Carolina. They also have been able to lead the way for a ground attack that averages almost 200 yards per game. If LSU can generate pass rush and stop the run just enough, this could turn into a defensive stalemate.
Sean O’Leary: It has to be those LSU receivers against the Georgia DBs. This passing attack is dangerous, with three guys in Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr. that can wreck you at any point. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a fantastic runner, but this is a stout Georgia defensive line that has only given up one rushing touchdown this season. LSU would have a better chance of putting up points in the passing game, so it will be interesting to see what those Georgia DBs can do against one of the best receiving corps in the country.
Julian Mitchell: I agree with Sean here. Georgia’s DBs have their tallest task of season by far in trying to stop the LSU passing attack. They really haven’t been exposed to explosive ability like this in my opinion. Ja’Marr Chase was somehow always wide open, deep downfield this season.
Robert O’Neill: I have to go with Sean and Julian. I called LSU’s WRs the best in the nation above, and I think that’s true. If Georgia wants to have a chance, they’ll have to find a way to slow down JaMarr Chase and Justin Jefferson
4. Who is the biggest X-Factor in this game for you? Stipulation: You can’t pick a QB.
Chris Novak: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, for me. While Burrow and the receivers have garnered plenty of attention this year, CEH has been awesome for them out of the backfield. Whether catching the ball on passes or running, Edwards-Helaire has been a beast. I think he is the one to watch here.
Michael McMurray: Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Last year he torched Georgia for 145 yards on the ground and that was without the threat of the best passing offense the SEC has ever seen. LSU is going to have to get him involved running and catching the ball.
Sean O’Leary: K’Lavon Chaisson. He had a lot of buzz coming into this season and has sort of disappointed. With only 3.5 sacks coming into the SEC Championship game, I want to see if Chaisson can be the game wrecker that we heard about before the season. If he can get to Jake Fromm more than once, that might make it easier on those guys in the defensive backfield.
Julian Mitchell: George Pickens. Will he come out in the second half shot out of a cannon after his suspension? Well, he’ll need to because UGA will have to throw at some point to have any chance of winning this game.
Robert O’Neill: Grant Delpit. We all know how good the LSU safety is, and I think if Georgia is going to be in a situation where its trailing and passing a lot, Delpit will shine in stopping them.
5. Who wins, what’s the score, who’s your MVP?
Chris Novak: LSU 35, Georgia 24. MVP: Ja’Marr Chase, who’ll score three TDs.
Michael McMurray: Georgia will put up a fight for a while, but LSU’s offense is too good. LSU wins 41-20. Joe Burrow adds an SEC Championship game MVP to his growing trophy list.
Sean O’Leary: LSU. I really do this Georgia will keep it tight, maybe limiting Edwards-Helaire a bit, but ultimately LSU will win this game and cruise to the College Football Playoff. 30-21, LSU. Joe Burrow will be the MVP and add another accolade to his already incredible, Heisman trophy-winning season.
Julian Mitchell: LSU wins 35-27. I think the Dawgs will have some success on the ground, but ultimately won’t be able to keep up with their currently limited receiving situation. The Tigers will have their at least a few of their normal back breaking plays downfield. Joe Burrow walks away as MVP.
Robert O’Neill: LSU wins 35-21 and Joe Burrow is the MVP