Georgia (3-1, 2-0 SEC) vs. LSU (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
When: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Last meeting: Georgia 52, LSU 38, Oct. 25, 2008.
Georgia: After two high-scoring affairs, Georgia’s offense struggled in wet conditions at Sanford Stadium last week. The biggest surprise was probably the poor performance of the offensive line, which was expected to be a strength for the Bulldogs this season. The line failed to open up much room for the tailbacks, and Georgia’s running game struggled mightily.
LSU: The Tigers’ offense figured to be potent this season, but so far they haven’t been able to move the ball with much consistency. LSU netted just 30 yards on the ground last week against Mississippi State, and quarterback Jordan Jefferson has not been able to repeat his breakout performance in last year’s bowl win over Georgia Tech.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ defense finally turned in a strong performance last week against Arizona State, holding the Sun Devils to just 204 total yards of offense. The defensive line had its best performance of the year, racking up nine tackles for a loss, but questions remain in the secondary, where Georgia’s undersized corners don’t match up well against LSU’s tall receivers.
LSU: The Tigers’ defense hasn’t been exceptional, but a late goal-line stand preserved a victory last week against Mississippi State, and new defensive coordinator John Chavis has slowly made improvements to a unit that allowed 52 points to Georgia a year ago.
Georgia: Like nearly every aspect of the Bulldogs’ season, special teams have been a mixed bag, but a last-second field goal by Blair Walsh and a block of an Arizona State field goal proved to be the difference in last week’s win. Walsh is a perfect 8-for-8 this season on field goals.
LSU: This figured to be an area of strength for LSU, particularly with speedster Trindon Holliday returning kicks. Instead, the special teams have been a disaster, save a punt return for a touchdown by Chad Jones last week.
Georgia: Mark Richt has had a lot of success at Georgia, but his recent work against top-10 teams hasn’t been good. The Bulldogs have dropped three straight to top-10 opponents, including a blowout loss to Alabama during a Week 5 matchup at Sanford Stadium last season. Still, Richt has beaten LSU, which comes into the game ranked fourth, in three straight meetings.
LSU: Les Miles has never beaten Georgia, and despite his 4-0 record and No. 4 ranking this season, has come under fire from fans who think the team has underperformed. Last year, Georgia jumped on Miles’ Tigers early, but LSU’s new defensive coordinator, John Chavis, figures to make the job a bit more difficult this time around.
Offense: A.J. Green vs. Patrick Peterson and Chad Jones. Georgia’s superstar receiver isn’t likely to face a tougher matchup this season than he’ll get against LSU. Peterson is the defensive equivalent of Green – tall, physical, and fast with great ball skills. Jones is one of the nation’s top safeties and had several big plays in last week’s win. The two will likely be double covering Green for much of the game.
Defense: Justin Houston vs. Ciron Black. Houston earned SEC defensive lineman of the week honors last week after a stellar performance against Arizona State. Black was a unanimous preseason All-SEC selection at left tackle. The Bulldogs desperately want to disrupt quarterback Jordan Jefferson, and this matchup will go a long way to deciding how well LSU can move the football.
Prediction: Georgia 38, LSU 33