SEC Football Championship Game
#14 Georgia Bulldogs vs #1 LSU Tigers
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: LSU -10
Current Line: LSU -13 1/2
Opening Total: 45
Current Total: 46
Opening Money Line: LSU -475 / Georgia +405
Current Money Line: LSU -485 / Georgia +415
Some say #1 LSU who is 12-0 this season have already punched their ticket to the BCS National Title Game in New Orleans whether the Tigers beat #14 Georgia Saturday or not in the SEC Championship Game. They say a rematch against #2 Alabama is almost inevitable. However, Tigers coach Les Miles said this week that his team’s goal is to first win the SEC title and then worry about the National title. It won’t be easy for LSU as they play what amounts to a road game against the 10-2 Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta. Georgia opened the season 0-2 with losses to top 15 teams Boise St and South Carolina. However, the Bulldogs have won 10 straight games since then under coach Mark Richt. An LSU win would clinch a berth in the title game, and send Georgia to either the Outback or Capital One Bowls. A Georgia upset would send them to the Sugar Bowl, and potentially cause a nightmare scenario for the BCS where LSU and Alabama would play for the national title and neither won a conference title.
LSU leads the overall series against Georgia 15-12-1 in a series that dates back to 1928. This is the third time they are meeting in the SEC Championship game with LSU claiming the title in 2003 and Georgia winning in 2005. LSU won the last meeting 20-13 in Athens in 2009 to snap a three game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Georgia has won 12 SEC Championships, the last coming in 2005. LSU has won 10 SEC Championships the last coming in 2007, and the Tigers won the BCS National Title that year as well.
Last week, Georgia was a 4.5 point favorite on the road at in-state rival Georgia Tech on the college football betting line. The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and were up 17-10 at halftime. Georgia scored 2 third quarter touchdowns to go up 31-10. Georgia Tech scored a touchdown with 6:38 left in the fourth but could get not closer. The Bulldogs won their 10th straight game 31-17. The Yellow Jackets had 2 turnovers and the Bulldogs had 1. Georgia had 380 total yards including 252 passing yards from quarterback Aaron Murray who threw for 4 touchdowns and an interception. Murray also rushed for 22 yards. Tight end Orson Charles had 5 catches for 95 yards. Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Tavarres King, and Aron White all caught touchdown passes for the Bulldogs. Georgia Tech had 355 total yards including 243 rushing yards.
Georgia is averaging 423.7 yards and 34 points a game. The Bulldogs have a balanced attack averaging 243.1 passing yards and 180.6 rushing yards a game. Georgia has 19 turnovers and has allowed 25 sacks this season. Georgia is 90/196 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/50 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns. Georgia is allowing 271.2 yards and 17.8 points a game. The Bulldogs give up 176.3 passing yards and 94.9 rushing yards a game. Georgia is in the top 12 nationally in all categories. The Bulldogs have forced 29 turnovers and 32 sacks this season. Georgia opponents are 60/188 on third and fourth down conversions, and 21/24 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns. Georgia has only one defensive touchdown but has given up 6 on defense and special teams.
Murray is 202/331 passing (61% completion) with 2,698 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions this season, along with 71 carries, 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. Back-up Hutson Mason has 2 touchdown passes in a handful of attempts. Running back Isaiah Crowell has 172 carries, 832 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 6 catches, 58 yards and a touchdown catch. Crowell is probable with an ankle injury. Carlton Thomas has 64 carries, 333 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Richard Samuel has 73 carries, 240 yards, and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 60 yards. He is doubtful with an ankle injury and has missed the last 2 games. Four other Georgia running backs have touchdown runs. Malcolm Mitchell is the leading receiver for the Bulldogs with 34 catches for 582 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 3 carries for 39 yards. Mitchell is questionable with a hamstring injury. Charles has 40 catches, 530 yards, and 5 touchdowns. King has 37 catches, 413 yards, and 7 scores. Bennett has 31 catches, 316 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Marlon Brown and White each have 3 touchdown catches. Six other Bulldog receivers have at least one touchdown catch this season. Kicker Blair Walsh is 43/43 on extra points and 18/29 on field goals with a long of 56 yards. Brandon Bogotay is 6/6 on extra points, and is 1/2 on field goals with a long of 26 yards. Besides the injuries to the backs and receivers, the Bulldogs also have 4 players on the offensive line that are listed as questionable or out along with 3 defensive players.
LSU was a 10.5 point favorite at home against then #3 Arkansas last week. The two teams were scoreless in the first quarter. Arkansas scored 14 points at the beginning of the second quarter including a touchdown on a 47 yard fumble return for a touchdown. LSU tied it up on a brilliant 92 yard punt return from cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, nicknamed the “Honey Badger.” LSU took a 21-14 lead with a minute left in the half. Arkansas pulled with-in four points with a field goal early in the third quarter. LSU out scored them 20-0 from that point on to win 41-17. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was upset that LSU was still throwing the ball deep when the game was already decided in order to gain style points and impress the voters. He was caught by CBS cameras yelling obscenities toward Miles, and the post-game handshake wasn’t exactly warm between the two. The game featured 5 turnovers including 3 by Arkansas. The Tigers had 494 total yards including 286 rushing yards. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Jefferson also had 7 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Running back Kenny Hilliard had 19 carries, 102 yards, and a touchdown. Michael Ford had 11 catches for 96 yards. Spencer Ware had a touchdown run for the Tigers. Receiver Rueben Randle had 9 catches for 134 yards. Russell Shepard caught a touchdown pass for LSU. Arkansas had 254 total yards including 47 rushing yards and just 11 first downs.
LSU averages 387.8 yards and 38.2 points a game. The Tigers throw for 169.1 yards and rush for 218.8 yards a game. LSU has 8 turnovers and has allowed 12 sacks this season. The Tigers are 77/154 on third and fourth down conversions, and 54/58 scoring in the red zone with 41 touchdowns. LSU gives up 248.4 yards a game and 10.6 points a game. The Tigers are #2 nationally in both total defense and scoring offense. LSU allows only 162.3 passing yards and 86.1 rushing yards. The Tigers are in the top 6 nationally in both passing and rushing defense. LSU has forced 27 turnovers and 33 sacks this season. Tigers opponents are 68/190 on third and fourth down conversions, and 19/21 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. LSU has 7 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season, including 3 by Mathieu. He has 2 fumble returns and a punt return.
LSU quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jefferson split the snaps, but Jefferson has taken the vast majority of the snaps since the 9-6 overtime win over Alabama a month ago. Lee didn’t play at all in the Arkansas game. Lee is 104/167 passing (62.3% completion) for 1,306 yards with 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He could be out due to academics reasons, but is listed as probable. Jefferson is 45/70 (64.3% completion) for 654 yards, with 5 touchdowns and an interception, along with 55 carries, 253 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Ford has 117 carries, 721 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Ware has 168 carries, 687 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Alfred Blue has 70 carries, 445 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Hilliard has 49 carries, 248 yards and 6 touchdowns. Randle has 48 catches, 889 yards, and 8 touchdowns, Odell Beckman has 36 catches, 437 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Shepard has 14 catches, 140 yards, 190 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Kadron Boone has only 7 catches but has 2 touchdowns. Kicker Drew Alleman is 56/57 on extra points and 16/18 on field goals with a long of 44 yards.
LSU is 9-3 against the spread this season and the total is 6-5-1 in those games. Georgia is 8-4 ATS and the total is 5-7 in those games. The over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings between LSU and Georgia. The Tigers are 4-0 ATS after scoring 40 points or more, 6-0 in conference games, and after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 8-1 after allowing 20 points or less, 7-1 against teams with winning records, 7-1-1 in December, 6-1 after a straight up win, and overall, 5-1 as a favorite, and as a favorite of 10.5 points or more, 5-1-1 on turf, 4-1 after a cover, and 6-2-1 in neutral site games. Georgia is 5-1 ATS as an underdog of 10.5 points or more, 4-1 after a straight up win and against teams with winning records, 8-2 overall, 5-2 in conference, after a cover, and after allowing 20 points or less, 1-4 on turf, 0-6 as an underdog, and o-4 in neutral site games as an underdog.
Don’t expect a lot a points in this game between two of the best defenses in the country. LSU simply has 2 much for Georgia and should win this handily.
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