Before we take a look at this year's game, let's take a look at some interesting facts about the SECCG.
The SEC West is a mere 3-8 in the SECCG. Alabama has won the affair twice and LSU once. Arkansas is 0-2 and has managed to score a collective six points while allowing 64 points to their Eastern opponents. Auburn is 0-2, Mississippi State is 0-1, and Mississippi is the only SEC Western program that has never earned the SEC West berth.
The SEC Eastern berth has been won by the Florida Gators a record seven times. From 1993-1996, the Gators won four straight SEC titles and a national championship to boot.
Tennessee is 2-1 in the SEC Championship game with wins over Auburn 30-29 in 1997, Mississippi State 24-14 in 1998, and a loss in 2001 to LSU. The loss in 2001 cost the Vols a chance at the national championship while the 1998 win put Tennessee in the driver's seat for the Sears Bowl Championship Series trophy.
Georgia made their first appearance last season in a 30-3 blowout win over Arkansas.
South Carolina, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt have never been to the title game.
The game's most valuable player award has been won by a quarterback seven times. The only two-time winner was Florida QB Danny Wuerffel. Florida QBs have won the award four times with Rex Grossman and Terry Dean rounding out the list with the pair collected by Wuerffel.
Two times in the title game's history a defensive player has won the MVP. In 1992, Antonio Langham won the award and Florida's Ellis Johnson claimed his honor in 1994.
Mississippi State has appeared only once and did not have a player win the most valuable player award, but there is a player worth mentioning. MSU's Kevin Prentiss has his name all over the SECCG record books. Prentiss holds the record for all-purpose yards at 222, highest punt return average at 25.3 yards per return, and longest punt return at 83 yards. Kevin is in the top five in several other categories.
Also worth mentioning, Robert Bean's 70-yard interception return for a touchdown is the 2nd longest interception return in the title game's history.
LSU vs. Georgia
This year will be the tenth year the championship game has been played in the Georgia Dome. The first two games were played at Legion field. There was some discussion at one time about rotating the game between the Superdome and Georgia Dome (West to East), but the idea was scrapped when the Georgia Dome made a deal the Southeastern Conference couldn't refuse.
The Georgia Dome has been kind to LSU. The Tigers have won a pair of Peach Bowls and an SEC Championship since the building opened. This time the championship game will be more of an away game for the Tigers as the homestanding Georgia Bulldogs bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. It's no surprise to see the Bulldogs back in the game after last year's phenomenal season.
In the first meeting between these two, miscues ruled the day. The SEC's best kicker in history missed everything, but the team bus. LSU gave up a touchdown on a screen play that saw all the outside containment fall down. LSU's Matt Mauck fumbled at the 11-yard line after registering a 1st down that would have basically put the game away.
Georgia put up 411 yards of offense against LSU, which is well above LSU's average of 260.4. But most of those yards were between the 20s. LSU held Georgia to 10 points, which is slightly below LSU's opponents average of 10.6 per game.
LSU leads the SEC with 33 sacks and registered four of those against Georgia's David Greene.
Georgia will have WR Fred Gibson back for this one. Gibson had to sit out the previous meeting due to injury. His impact could be huge. LSU's All-SEC corner Corey Webster will draw the unenviable task of man-to-man coverage of Gibson. Webster, you may remember, made the game-clinching pick of a David Greene pass in the final minute.
Georgia will certainly gameplan for 3 step drops and quick hitting plays to keep the LSU blitz package at bay. Michael Cooper will be key as the running game can give Greene more time to survey the flow of the game. If Greene is sacked and hurried like last time this one could get ugly.
LSU and Georgia are both very stingy on defense, so this probably won't be your typical SEC Championship game. The 17-10 score a couple months back may be pretty close to the mark this time out as well.
Justin Vincent has emerged as the break through back for the Tiger offense and Skyler Green has become the conference's premier return man. Both of these players saw less touches last game and now the Bulldogs must account for these additions to the offensive production.
Greene needs a big game. The offense is far from where they had hoped and Greene's Heisman campaign never got off the ground. Greene will return and his chances at the Heisman as well as the SEC may be better next season. LSU's defense and special teams should be solid and allow the offense just enough room to win.
LSU has had more of the lucky bounces this year and Georgia hasn't. I look for that to continue, but for LSU to get on track earlier this time out.
LSU 24 Georgia 20
Well, that's how I see it. I look forward to a day in the coming years when the Western division Bulldogs will again play in this game. With the hiring of new headman, Sylvester Croom, the Bulldogs have a new lease on life as well as a much higher profile. When was the last time you saw a 2-10 program covered by every news outlet in the country?
I must admit I didn't know much about Coach Croom before this hiring process began. The more I read the more excited I became. This situation won't be turned around overnight and I think our fan base understands that. Coach Croom and staff will be given a mulligan or two, but the pressure on this man will be immense. It's time we as fans unite and push the maroon and white banner ahead to the next level.
The hiring of Coach Croom has made national headlines, due to the historic nature of his hiring. What impressed me the most is how he made it a point to illustrate that the only color that mattered was MAROON! In a lot of ways that shows me that Croom is a Mississippi State Bulldog already. It just goes to show you once again from One Night in March to One Day in December, THE Mississippi State University is the People's University.
Until next week,
1 John 4:7-8
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is email@example.com.