Rematch should provide the same result

It'll be a battle of Top Five squads, as the LSU Fighting Tigers take on the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The 2003 Southeastern Conference title and a guaranteed berth in a BCS bowl game will be on the line.

Last week's record: 5-1

LSU vs. Georgia (SEC Championship Game)

Game within a game: Georgia running backs vs. LSU rush defense

Will Georgia and David Pollack be able to defend their SEC title? (Getty Images)

When Georgia traveled to Baton Rouge on September 20 to take on LSU, it was the gridiron version of the mythological movie "Clash Of The Titans," with the Bulldog and Tiger rushing defenses squaring off in full-on trench warfare.

The rematch will be more of the same. Georgia boasts the country's eighth-best rush defense, while LSU brings the third-ranked unit. But the reason Georgia's running backs are more in the spotlight than LSU's is because LSU also brings the nation's number-five pass efficiency defense to the table.

If Georgia is to get anything going in its bread-and-butter ball-control passing game, running backs Michael Cooper and Kregg Lumpkin have to give LSU's defense something to respect.

Georgia's pass defense is nothing to sneeze at, either. The Bulldogs are ranked eighth in pass defense and 13th in pass efficiency defense. But LSU has more talent at running back and quarterback Matt Mauck can make plays himself out of the pocket, which Georgia's David Greene cannot. Simply put, it's more likely LSU's offense will be able to move against Georgia's defense than the inverse.

Michael Clayton could be the most talented offensive player in the conference. (AP photo)

Georgia lost the first meeting this year and will lose the second as well without some help.

Special teams are tightly contested; Georgia kicks the ball better, while LSU punts it better. But LSU holds a substantial edge in returns, particularly punt returns. Skyler Green is the nation's best at the job.

All phases of Georgia's offense will have to work before the Bulldogs can hope to avenge its regular season loss to LSU. If not, Georgia will find itself in the uncomfortable position of having to punt to Green, and too much of that spells disaster.

Prediction: LSU 27, Georgia 17


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