That's a pretty nutty storyline. I'm not sure how often that happens in the world. It's one thing for a player to leave a program and to play against that program later in his career; it's quite another for that player to return to his hometown to play the program he transferred from.
But Mettenberger never played for the Bulldogs. He sat, with Murray, on the sideline during one of the most turbulent seasons of the Mark Richt years in Athens. Now the signal caller in Baton Rouge, Mettenberger enters his senior season with NFL potential and only one year left to make good on it after an up and down 2012.
Wouldn't you know the first quality conference opponent the Tigers play is Georgia. The pressure on Mettenberger will be significant.
But the pressure will be on the Bulldogs, too. Consider that Georgia could very well already have two losses coming into this game. A second SEC loss would pretty much end much hope for a return to Atlanta.
This will be one of the bigger games in the SEC this fall. Both teams have suffered tight, bitter losses to Alabama of late and know the loser of this game has a tough track back to the SEC Championship.
LSU-Georgia regular season games have been some of the best the SEC has had to offer over the last decade and a half. 1998's classic in Baton Rouge was followed up by an afternoon thriller in Athens in 1999 – the Bulldogs won both contests. 2003's fight between the two programs saw a game defensively deadlocked for nearly 60 minutes before two touchdowns in the final moment swung the game to the Tigers at the end. Georgia blew out LSU in 2004 and 2008 before another thrilling and controversial game the Tigers took in the last minute of the game thanks to a still-puzzling personal foul call on A.J. Green.
The fact is, and TV knows this, when Georgia and LSU get together in the regular season the odds are high that the game will be one of the best of the year.
LSU player to watch:
Mettenberger play of the most monumental games of his career when he squares off against his former teammates in late September. Mettenberger, who never played a game for the Bulldogs, let got by Mark Richt following his arrest in 2010.
Mettenberger has made strides since his departure from Georgia three years ago, however. After an enlightening experience playing for Butler Community College in Kansas, Mettenberger transferred to LSU, where he's now the starting signal-caller for what will likely be a preseason top 15 team.
The Watkinsville native is also a winner. In two seasons as a starter, Mettenberger is a resounding 21-4. He led Butler to the JUCO national championship game in 2010 before transferring. And with ten wins last year, Mettenberger joined Matt Flynn and Warren Rabb as the only quarterbacks in LSU history to lead the Tigers to double-digit wins in their first seasons as starting quarterback.
Mettenberger is a stout 6-5, 230-pound gunslinger, and has most of the tools coaches want in a quarterback. He's got great vision and makes good decisions more often than not. His accuracy is a liability at times, but he makes up for it with incredible arm strength.
What the Dawgs must do:
Win or lose close. If Georgia in a must-win situation then that speaks for itself – the Dawgs must win. But if Georgia is undefeated, and the game is a matchup between top five teams, then Georgia can survive a loss at home to the Tigers. Why? Two reasons – the two could play one another later in the season in the SEC Championship Game; a home loss to LSU isn't considered a game breaker when talking about the national title… just ask Alabama. With all of that said, and this should be understood, a win is preferred.
Inside the numbers:
The Tigers brought in Cam Cameron to run the offense this year, and head coach Les Miles promises to have a more balanced offensive attack. Cameron is known for his work with NFL quarterbacks and inherits an offense that rushed the ball 171 more times than it passed it last season (527 to 356). LSU finished the season 92nd in the nation in passing (200.5 yards per game).
Limited. Both programs recruit regional and national prospects, but rarely have the two gone head-to-head against one another in recruiting. LSU, like Georgia, has a wealth of talent in state, but has to fight off intruders to keep kids in state.
Last year's prediction (vs. Ole Miss): This week is traditionally an off week or a gimmie game for Georgia. But the 2012 SEC schedule (with all its quirks) forced the Ole Miss date to early November. Georgia is the better team and should win the game, but it will need to maintain focus and not fall to sleep, as no one in the SEC is a pushover.
It took the Bulldogs a little bit of time, and a score going into halftime, to get rolling against the Rebels. But once Aaron Murray hooked up with Marlon Brown on a Statue of Liberty play the game was all Dawgs.
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