“Southern Hospitality, Part II”

Saturday SpotlightSEC Championship

 (4) Georgia Bulldogs at (2) LSU Tigers

Georgia: They ended the regular season victorious in their remaining games. I questioned their effort after the stunning loss to South Carolina on October 12th. I know they lost a few pieces from last season’s team, but something didn’t seem right with them. It was almost as if they were fine with just letting teams creep back into the game. Other years, they’ve put teams away. For the third straight season, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs are champions of the SEC East. I remember when they started this run. It was a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend where they pulled off the upset. To cap off their regular season, they demolished the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in another edition of the “Clean, Old Fashioned Hate” rivalry. Quarterback Jake Fromm was in complete control of the football game. He completed 14 of his 29 pass attempts for 254 yards passing with four touchdown passes and zero interceptions. You can’t mention anything about this team without mentioning their defense. They have the best scoring defensive unit in the country averaging 10.1 points per contest. This is basically a home game for them. Here they are again in the SEC Championship. This time around, they’ll face the favorite to win the Heisman trophy in Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers.

LSU: I’ve followed this group very closely this year. I knew for a fact they were the real deal after I watched them take on the Texas Longhorns in week two of the regular season. What’s stood out has been their methods to maintain consistency. This offense has been a problem for any defense trying to stop them. They run that pro-style offense. Passing coordinator Joe Brady has come in and help elevate this entire offense. You don’t see many teams at the college level running pro-like offenses. After this year, I have a feeling we’ll see more teams try to do so. Joe Burrow has been the best quarterback in the country this season. Week after week, he carved up defenses. Last year was the introductory course. This year has been unleashing his skillset. The LSU offense is second in college football averaging 47 points per game. They are also ranked second in total offense with 556 total yards per game. They can beat you in a variety of ways. Their hidden weapon is a running back named Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He’s a short and stocky running back that reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew. In the open field, he has the versatile factor like Darren Sproles. The Tigers defense has been the question mark this year. People really don’t see it much because their offense covers up so many holes. Besides the secondary, the front struggles. I’ve said it for most of the year that they can’t generate a pass rush without blitzing which can hurt them. After winning the SEC West, postseason play is set to begin.

Georgia Player to Watch: Tyler Clark– What a force he’s become for the Georgia defense. Tyler is that guy up front for the Bulldogs defensive line that you must zoom in on because if you don’t, he’ll ruin your game plan. He’s disruptive when it comes to stopping the run. I’ve seen him rip through and toss offensive linemen just to get to the ball-carrier. As a pass rusher, he lines up all over the defensive line. I like when he generates a rush from the inside because he uses his quickness to his advantage.

LSU Player to Watch: Terrace Marshall Jr– Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase are the two wide receivers that get all the recognition and rightfully so. Just like some of the other teams in college football, the Tigers have their own productive trio of receivers. Let’s meet Terrace Marshall. He’s your prototypical possession receiver standing tall at 6’4. I like the dynamic he brings to this offense. He gives Burrow another consistent weapon down the field. He plays inside, outside and goes over the middle.

Final Analysis: It’s an SEC Championship game that doesn’t include Alabama! This is the second title game in three years not to feature those Tide. We have a good one here (hopefully). I love seeing these matchups of prolific offenses against physical defenses. Someone needs to break through to come out on top, right? Georgia will run the football early on. LSU gives up 124.5 yards per game on the ground. Exploit that. I see the first quarter of the game being like the early rounds of a boxing match. They’ll feel each other out early on. Another guy to watch for LSU is Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He won’t run much on this stout Georgia defense, but he impacts the passing game as well. He’s a check down option for Burrow. I’m envisioning a close game throughout. This one will come down to the fourth quarter.

Prediction: LSU 35 Georgia 27

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