SEC Championship: Preview and Prediction

Last week's record: 4-1 (80.0%) Season record: 63-21 (75.0%)

Last week's record: 4-1 (80.0%)
Season record: 63-21 (75.0%)


LSU vs. GEORGIA (SEC Championship Game, Atlanta, Ga.)

Game within a game: LSU explosiveness vs. Georgia poise
Put the statistics of each team side-by-side and what you find are two virtually equal teams. Georgia has better offensive statistics, LSU better defensive statistics. Both teams are balanced almost equally. Until, that is, you get down to the turnover margin ranking, where you'll find Georgia ranked 9th nationally and 2nd in the SEC at +1.09 per game – and LSU ranked 107th nationally and 11th in the SEC at -.73 per game.

LSU has greater potential for the big play, thanks mostly to the deep collection of wide receivers at QB JaMarcus Russell's disposal. But Georgia's D.J. Shockley is ranked 17th in the country in passing efficiency and is also his team's third-leading rusher, making him more of a consistent threat. Then, there is the matchup not a lot of people are talking about: Georgia's Mark Richt versus LSU's Les Miles in a battle of the men who wear headsets and not helmets. Miles made some very questionable decisions early in the year against Tennessee after a career of similar decisions at Oklahoma State, while Richt is regarded as a more cerebral play-caller and sideline captain.

Whereas LSU is better able to hit the big play, Georgia seems to have the direction of the game figured out in advance. Aside from an ugly 31-30 loss to Auburn – the 14-10 loss to Florida the week before doesn't count for these purposes, as Shockley was unavailable for that game – the Bulldogs' season has gone according to plan and the Bulldogs are rarely completely stopped. LSU, by comparison, is more apt to go through spurts followed by fits of ineffectiveness.

With the game in Atlanta, it becomes a de facto home game for Georgia, giving the Bulldogs one more advantage. This figures to be one of the closer SEC Championship Games on record, and picking a favorite in this game is little more than a semi-educated guess. Bet on Shockley's veteran leadership, and Georgia's likelihood of making one fewer mistake than LSU. Georgia 21, LSU 17


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