Bobby Petrino could do nothing but watch and shout obscenities as he witnessed his Razorbacks get decimated by a clearly superior LSU team. The #1 ranked Tigers proved that Arkansas’ number three ranking this past week was for national television hype only as they mauled the Razorbacks by a final score of 41-17. LSU now heads to the Georgia Dome for a match-up with the second hottest team in the country, as the Georgia Bulldogs look to spoil the Tigers’ undefeated season.
The LSU Tigers have largely dominated the competition throughout their 2011 campaign. In fact, the Tigers have been in such control that some are speculating that LSU will play in the BCS National Championship Game even if the Dawgs pull off the upset in Atlanta on Saturday. Other than the clash with the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide, the Tigers have beaten every opponent this season by at least 13 points.
Georgia’s journey to the SEC championship was not without adversity. After starting 0-2, the Bulldogs have barked, bit, and pawed their way back to the top of the SEC East by winning ten straight games. Georgia reigned supreme in the yearly rivalry with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in week 13 by a final score of 31-17. Now, the Bulldogs must figure out how to catch the Tigers by the tail, and send shock-waves throughout college football.
The key component for Georgia to pull off an upset against LSU is by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On offense, Georgia needs Isaiah Crowell to gain enough yardage to keep the Bayou Bengals honest. Carlton Thomas and Brandon Harton are likely to see action in the Dawg backfield, but Crowell is the key to success for Georgia’s rushing attack.
If LSU is able to stuff the run, and then pressure Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray with the front four on their defensive line it will be a long afternoon for Bulldog Nation. The Dawgs must block the Tigers and force LSU to blitz in order to get to Murray. Pressure from LSU will allow Georgia’s signal caller a chance to get the ball out quickly to the young Bulldog receivers which will give the Dawgs a chance at moving the football.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has thrived this season bringing pressure. The Dawgs’ dominant defense needs to make LSU uncomfortable and force turnovers in order to make the Bulldogs’ job on offense easier. It is crucial that Georgia’s defense keep the Dawgs in the game early so that Mike Bobo and company can figure out how to beat the fast and furious Louisiana State Tiger defense.
LSU’s biggest asset on offense is versatility. The Tigers run a pro-style offense, but Georgia must be prepared for both Jordan Jefferson and Jarret Lee at quarterback. Jordan Jefferson has been the Tigers’ starter since November 12th, after he relieved Jarret Lee who was struggling against Alabama. With Jefferson as the starter LSU will spread the field at times to make their opponents defend the option. Georgia must also be ready for five different running backs, as the Tigers have five players with at least 27 rushing attempts in 2011.
The Bulldogs’ special teams need a banner outing this weekend. LSU is the most talented team in the country, and Georgia can not afford to give the Tigers any help. Georgia’s special teams has given opposing teams gifts throughout the season: including missed field goals, favorable field position, and kick returns for touchdowns
On the other hand, Georgia kick returner Brandon Boykin has been dangerous all season. However, he will be returning punts from LSU punter Brad Wing who has been a weapon in his own right for the Tigers. LSU head coach Les Miles is known as the “Mad Hatter,” so Georgia must be on the look-out for fakes in the kicking game.
Bulldog Nation should embrace the underdog role while bearing in mind that they have the talent to tame the LSU Tigers. In their first trip to the Georgia Dome in the 2011 opener, it was clear that the Georgia Bulldogs were not ready for prime time. The second time around the Bulldogs are confident, young, and hungry. UGA is eager to prove that they are once again a force in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia will have to play mistake free football, but there could very well be sugar falling from the sky onto the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday night.