LSU-UGA PREVIEW

Tiger Rag addresses the key matchups that will determine the winner of Saturday's big showdown in Atlanta.

Head to Head:

Georgia RB vs. LSU LB

Thomas Brown vs. Kenneth Hollis

Thomas Brown is Georgia's leading rusher with 596 yards on 124 carries with three scores. Brown is smallish in size standing 5-8, 183 pounds, roughly the size of Kevin Faulk when he played at LSU in the late 1990s. The question will be Brown be durable enough going up against the likes of Kenny Hollis and the LSU defense.

Georgia S vs. LSU QB

Greg Blue vs. JaMarcus Russell

JaMarcus Russell has had his ups and downs under center for the Tigers. While Russell's receivers have dropped more than a few passes this year, if Russell doesn't get in a rhythm early, he tends to roll out of the pocket, force passes. If he does make bad decision, waiting to strike is Georgia safety Greg Blue, one of the top defensive backs in the nation.

Player to Watch:

D.J. Shockley

QB, Senior

6-1, 206

North Clayton HS

College Park, Ga.

Why it is important to stop him:

D.J. Shockley is the total package. He can run, throw and block. On the year, he has thrown for 2,199 yards completing 147 of 265 passes with 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Shockley, who spent years behind David Green, is this season's Jason Campbell and can make teams pay much the way Campbell did last year at Auburn. Shockley leads the SEC in pass efficiency and he has also run for 241 yards and three scores. Plus, remember how anemic Georgia was offensively when Shockley missed the Florida game due to injury.

Who has to stop him?

The man who can neutralize Shockley is Ali Highsmith. A lightning fast linebacker than roam sideline to sideline will be a must in containing Shockley. Plus, don't forget about Shockley's 2003 brief meeting with the Tigers. Coach Mark Richt called on Shockley to fill in for an injured Greene in the regular season meeting in Baton Rouge. He came and went after just four plays. Will history repeat itself?

LSU rushing offense vs. Georgia rushing defense:

Who knows what to expect from the LSU rushing attack? Joseph Addai has been at half speed for much of the past month and a half since an ankle injury slowed him down in the North Texas game. You have to believe Justin Vincent is drooling to get back on the turf of the Georgia Dome, the site of his grandest night when he ran for 200-plus yards and racked up SEC Championship Game MVP honors in 2003. Georgia's defense is giving up almost 130 yards per game as well.

Advantage: LSU

LSU passing offense vs. Georgia passing defense:

The Georgia pass defense is very good. The Bulldogs are allowing a mere 175 yards per game through the air, ninth nationally, and are led by all-everything safety Greg Blue. Also, JaMarcus Russell tends to make poor decisions when he doesn't find his groove early and defensive end Quentin Moses, who leads the team with 17.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, could make him pay. Granted, Russell has had lots of dropped passes this year. If LSU can hang onto those passes, things could go the Tigers' way.

Advantage: Georgia

Georgia rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:

The Bulldogs have literally every weapon possible to throw at LSU in the running game. Whether its team leader Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin, Danny Ware or even quarterback D.J. Shockley, Georgia can attack from any angle. The Tigers are very good against the run though giving up just 96 yard per game eighth nationally.

Advantage: LSU

Georgia passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

The only phase of LSU's defense that has shown weakness this season is the secondary. However, that was a long time ago. The Tigers have gotten better and better against the pass and should be able to contain Georgia's passing attack. However, the key will be stopping Shockley from getting into the secondary and using his legs for big gains.

Advantage: Push

LSU special teams vs. Georgia special teams:

There is little doubt Georgia is going to do everything in its power to keep the ball away from Skyler Green. Don't expect No. 5 to get the ball much unless it is thrown to him by Russell. This game features two of the best punters in the nation in LSU's Chris Jackson and Georgia Gordon Ely-Kelso. The Tigers rank second in the nation in net punting (39.88) while the Dogs are eighth (38.6).

Advantage: Push

Intangibles:

Many will argue that it is a defacto home game for the Bulldogs with the game being in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. But LSU has played very well in that building (as has Justin Vincent) winning two SEC titles over Tennessee and Georgia. Also, LSU's experience of going to Tuscaloosa and escaping with a 16-13 win over the No. 3 ranked Tide gives the Tigers the edge.

Advantage: LSU

Prediction:

You can't pick against the Tigers here. Sure they haven't won every game in impressive fashion, but they have a refuse-to-lose attitude that has pushed the team to nine straight victories and only the eighth 10-win season in school history. The Tigers are more talented than the Bulldogs and have a better defense. It will be interesting to see how well LSU can defend against Shockley, who is the heart and sole of this Bulldog team. But never bet against the Tigers in the Georgia Dome. LSU wins its third SEC title in five years, but in typical close, gut wrenching fashion.

LSU 24, Georgia 17

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