Friday, September 27, 2013

DC's Game of the Week: LSU at Georgia

#6 LSU at #9 GEORGIA
Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA

Saturday, September 28, 3:30 PM on CBS

When we told you Week 5 would make up for Week 4 we were specifically talking about this game, an early season SEC slugfest that could permanently swing the SEC East and West division races before the leaves even change color. As always, we'll be live tweeting @DCoverageFB during the game on Saturday, so interact with us by using the hashtag #GOTW. 

In August 2010 Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger were both freshmen in Athens competing for the Georgia starting QB job. What a difference a few years makes. Mettenberger returns to his native start tomorrow to once again compete with Murray in Athens, only now the prize is the SEC driver's seat, rather than a starting job. A win for the Tigers would finally propel them into the middle of the BCS discussion after a near perfect month of a football left them overshadowed by SEC West rivals Alabama and Texas A&M. A win for the Bulldogs would be their first over a ranked SEC West opponent since 2008, and would almost guarantee a berth in Atlanta if Georgia can take care of business in Jacksonville. A loss for either team potentially dooms their SEC Championship Game chances. The starting jobs have been decided, but the stakes in Athens still couldn't be higher. 

The QB's shared history will consume the bulk of pre-game coverage, especially after Mettenberger's surprise development into a legitimate passing threat, but this game is going to be decided in the trenches. LSU's running game has been lights out through four games, averaging 220+ yards per outing. Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee are both averaging more than 7.5 yards per carry, and the Tigers dominance up front has opened the field up for Mettenberger to expose secondaries in man coverage. Georgia's chances on defense will depend on how well they stop the Tigers run with base personnel. If they can bottle up Hill and Magee with six or seven guys the secondary is good enough to hang with the LSU receivers. If they have to bring safeties down and keep linebackers home to stack the box (which we think they will), they're going to get burned like they did at Clemson. 

Georgia is preparing for their own slugfest up front, practicing in full pads every day this week. The Bulldogs play a similar brand of offense, relying on Heisman candidate Todd Gurley to single-handedly wear down defenses and open up Murray's play action attack downfield (especially to their talented tight ends). Georgia's currently ranked 9th in the nation in passing yardage per game, but as we saw in Death Valley and against South Carolina the passing game lives and dies with the success of the ground game. I think Gurley will find holes and will move the ball against LSU, but the Tigers front seven is good enough to stop him by themselves. Their secondary will be able to stay home and take a way the deep ball, while the Bulldogs won't. That's going to be the difference in Athens. 

Brendan's Pick: LSU 31, Georgia 24

Jimmy's Pick: LSU 35, Georgia 27

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