PASSING: In his first 114 passes this season, Matthew Stafford hadn’t thrown an interception. In his last 10 quarters of action, he has thrown five. But while the turnovers have come a bit too frequently, he has also passed for 709 yards and five touchdowns in that same time period. Stafford has established a killer connection with freshman wide receiver A.J. Green, who has 14 catches for 186 yards in his past two games. LSU’s wide receivers are among the most skilled in the SEC, but the Tigers’ duo of quarterbacks has struggled at times. Junior Andrew Hatch and freshman Jarrett Lee will split time, with Lee being the primary passer, while Hatch is a bigger threat to run. EDGE: Georgia.
RUSHING: Knowshon Moreno has topped 100 yards in each of his past two games, including a season-high 172 yards last week against Vanderbilt. Although Moreno has found the end zone just once in that span, his ability to fight for tough yards and milk the clock has secured wins in both contests. Charles Scott leads the Tigers with 631 yards and eight rushing touchdowns this season, but LSU uses Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy and Hatch to run the football, too. The Tigers’ secret weapon, however, is receiver Trindon Holliday, who has just 10 carries this season but is always a threat to make a big play. EDGE: Georgia.
DEFENSE: Both teams feature top-25 defenses nationally, and both are among the country’s best at stopping the run. The Bulldogs allow just 66 yards per game to opposing runners, including holding Tennessee to just one rushing yard two weeks ago. The Tigers’ front four is huge, but they are also known for occasionally filling their line with four defensive ends in situations where the opposition is likely to pass. Despite playing one fewer game, LSU’s defense has racked up two more sacks than Georgia, making its pass rush a major obstacle for the Bulldogs’ young offensive line. EDGE: LSU.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Head coach Mark Richt said his team was close to breaking a big return on special teams through the first five weeks of the season – not counting Prince Miller’s 92-yard punt return against Alabama – but he said the blocking has broken down the past two weeks. Kicker Blair Walsh missed two field goals last week, and punter Brian Mimbs has been inconsistent after a strong start to the year. LSU, meanwhile, has one of the top kickers in the country in senior Colt David, while Holiday is one of the nation’s most feared return men. EDGE: LSU.
ONE TO WATCH: Geno Atkins. Georgia’s primary goal against LSU will be to shut down the run, something the Bulldogs have done well throughout the season. Against LSU’s massive offensive line, however, the job will be tougher this week than in past games. The Tigers feature three 300-pounders on the line, including left guard Herman Washington who checks in at 6-foot-7, 375 pounds, meaning Atkins and fellow defensive tackle Corvey Irvin could be in for a long day. Atkins has quietly become one of the SEC’s top linemen this season, and Richt thinks he’ll be up to the task. “He is one of the guys I watch in the game because I get excited when I see him knocking people back,” Richt said.
OUR WRITER’S TAKE: For all intents and purposes, today’s game has essentially become an elimination game for the national championship. Both teams have used up their wiggle room – Georgia in a loss to Alabama, and LSU in a blowout to Florida – and neither can afford a loss if they want to stay in the hunt for a BCS title. Much like the Bulldogs’ game against Alabama last month, this one will come down to who wins the battles at the line of scrimmage, and while the Crimson Tide dominated in that area, the Bulldogs insist their lines have made significant progress since then.