No. 1 LSU Tigers (12-0 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs (10-2 SU, 8-3-1 ATS), Saturday December 3rd, 2011. 4:00PM EST, College Football Week 14
Georgia Dome Atlanta, Ga
By Jay Horne, NCAA Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Louisiana St. -11/UGA +11
Over/Under Total: 45
Welcome to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, G.A and the home of the coveted SEC Championship. To say this is big time football, is the understatement of the century. The last 5 SEC Champions have went on to win the BCS National Championship and the top ranked LSU Tigers will have that chance again this Saturday when they meet the no. 12 Georgia Bulldogs on the biggest conference championship stage in all of college football.
The LSU Tigers will be playing the "Goliath" role this Saturday over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers just capped off their first 12-0 start in school history with a big blowout win over then no. 3 Arkansas 41-17. The win marked the 3rd victory for LSU over a top 3 ranked team this season and a record breaking 8th win over a top 25 opponent thus far in 2011. The Tigers have battled through tough games all season and are now just 1 win away from securing their spot in the National Championship Game if they have not done so already.
However, waiting in the shadows is a Georgia Bulldogs team that has racked up 10 straight wins to find their selves with a shot at the SEC Title. The Bulldogs are a big underdog entering this Saturday despite their hot streak since losing the opening two games of the year. In fact, many would argue that Georgia was not even the best team in the SEC East this season but just had their easier schedule compared to South Carolina. Still, the Bulldogs are the team in position to pull off what would be a monumental type upset this Saturday inside the Georgia Dome which will resemble a homecoming for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs should definitely have more fans inside the Georgia Dome this Saturday and it will be important they get off to a good start. LSU is one of the most physical teams in the entire country. The Tigers do a great job of wearing down opponents through their dynamic defense and hardnosed rushing attack especially late in games obvious from how they pulled away from Arkansas last week in the 2nd half. To avoid another similar blowout, the Bulldogs must do two things really well. They have to move the football on offense and find a way to stop the LSU rushing attack. Needless to say that is going to be one difficult task.
The LSU defense has been the backbone to the team's success all season long. LSU ranks 4th against the run (86ypg), 2nd overall (248ypg), and 2nd in scoring defense holding opponents to just 10.58 points per contest. The Tigers offense has benefited from that LSU defense all season by capitalizing off turnovers and the short side of the field. Therefore, it is imperative that Georgia maintains drives on offense to at least keep the field position battle neutral and give their defense a chance. If LSU's defense has their way much like they have all season, Georgia will be in for a long afternoon.
The best way for Georgia to sustain offensive success is to get quarterback Aaron Murray into some type of rhythm. Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell has been a big help to the offense on the ground this season racking up 832 yards on the year. Crowell missed last week's win over rival Georgia Tech with an ankle injury and he may not be at 100% this Saturday even though he is expected to play. Still, LSU's defense is simply too good at stopping the run.
Therefore, Murray has to get the ball moving through the air. Murray has the poise to not get rattled by the relentless LSU passing attack and the arm to make the throws needed. Murray has completed 61% passing on the year for 2,698 yards with 31 scores and 10 picks on the year. The key for Murray and the offense is methodical drives down the field with high percentage passes to wide outs Orson Charles and Malcolm Mitchell. If the Bulldogs can do just that, perhaps they can find a few big plays elsewhere to make this game interesting.
For LSU, the key to victory is simple and that is to play LSU football. The Tigers offense simply needs to run the ball and wear down the Georgia offense while avoiding the ever dreaded turnovers. The Tigers defense is not going to lose any games so it is imperative that the offense does not give up any free opportunities. QB Jordan Jefferson had a big performance against Arkansas completing 18 of 29 passing for 209 yards with 1 score and 1 pick. Jefferson has been playing well in recent weeks and WR Reuben Randle is a big time playmaker in the passing game.
Still, anything in the passing game is just extra for the offense. The Tigers bread and butter is between the tackles with that big offensive line. Both tailbacks Michael Ford and Spencer Ware have been big contributors in the ground game. Ford leads the rushing attack with 721 yards on the ground and Ware is shortly behind with 687 yards on the ground. Both backs have combined to average 5.1 yards per carry with 15 touchdowns on the season.
The Tigers like to run the ball as much as 70% of the time. Take that into consideration along with how often the offense stays on the field (from the help of the defense), and it is easy to see how LSU wears down their opponents. Therefore, look for LSU to stick to this winning recipe again this Saturday as they attempt to punch their ticket to the BCS National Championship Game.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The only reason this line is not significantly higher in favor of LSU is because it is the SEC Championship and perhaps you can expect Georgia's 'A' game. However, LSU has handled this situation all year as they have had the target on their back for the entire season. LSU is just simply too good to be held back. If you have not learned that already, then you must not follow the SEC closely. Tigers in another big win here.
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