BREAKDOWN: LSU-UGA, The Matchups
Breaking down the unit-by-unit matchups in this weekend’s matchup between the LSU Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs
by Matt Deville
Tiger Rag Senior Editor
(At left) Ricky Jean-Francois is expected to retrn to action this weekend (Photo by Steve Franz/LSU)
The LSU Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs are too very similar teams - yet very different.
Both teams are ranked in a similar position - Georgia is No. 9 while LSU is ranked 11th. The teams each have identical SEC records at 3-1. Both the Tigers and Bulldogs have no signature win this season taking care of business in a very workmanlike way. They also have been saddled with one ugly loss a piece - Georgia lost to Alabama 41-30 and LSU dropped a 51-21 decision at Florida.
When comparing the teams statistically, both the LSU and Georgia offenses are ranked among the best team’s in the SEC. Georgia is No. 3 in total offense while the Tigers are fourth in the league offensively.
Defensively, both team’s are struggling in defending the pass, but are tough against the run.
One of the biggest traits these teams share is the fact that this game will determine the outcome of the season for each team. The losing team is effectively out of the BCS title hunt. And barring unforeseen circumstances, will be eliminated from the SEC race as well.
Here’s Tiger Rag’s unit-by-unit comparisons of these teams:
LSU rushing offense vs. Georgia rushing defense
This is all determines which LSU team shows up. In the first four games against quality defenses such as Miss. State and Auburn, the Tigers ripped and run for gobs of yardage. The Florida Gators limited the Tigers to 85 yards rushing in that 51-21 loss in The Swamp, but LSU torched the league’s top defense at South Carolina to the tune of 169 yards on the ground. The Tigers turned to a more power-oriented rushing attack using Keiland Williams and Charles Scott in the backfield at the same time against the Gamecocks. The Bulldogs are No. 1 in the league and third in the nation against the run. Georgia is allowing just 61 yards per game on the ground.
LSU passing offense vs. Georgia passing defense
Like the Auburn game, the South Carolina contest was a tale of two halves. Jarrett Lee struggled in the first two stanzas in Columbia, but rattled off two solid periods of play in the second half, complimented by the running of Andrew Hatch. In Georgia has one glaring weakness, it’s a suspect pass defense. The Bulldogs are 66th in the nation and 10th in the league against the pass giving up 208 yards per game.
Georgia rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense
This is truly strength against strength. The Bulldogs feature arguably the nation’s best running back in Knowshon Moreno. The elusive, yet powerful back has already ground out 762 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. LSU is 10th in the nation against the run, giving up just 96 yards per game. This should be fun to watch.
Georgia passing offense vs. LSU passing defense
Here’s where things get dicey. Matthew Stafford is probably the best passer in the league and the Bulldogs lead the SEC is passing offense putting up 260 yards per game. However, Stafford has been turnover prong lately allowing Tennessee and Vanderbilt to hang around in the Bulldogs most recent victories. LSU has struggled against the pass as average quarterbacks such as Auburn’s Chris Todd, Miss. State’s Tyson Lee and South Carolina’s Stephan Garcia have thrown the ball all around the field. However, if LSU can utilize its “Express” package the way it did at South Carolina and can hit Stafford, the game changes entirely.
LSU special teams vs. Georgia special teams
This game features two of the best kickers in the league in LSU’s Colt David and Georgia’s Brian Mimbs. David has missed only one kick this year, a 50-yarder at Auburn. Other than that, he’s a perfect 17 of 17 on PATs and 7 of 8 on field goals. Mimbs is 25 of 25 on extra points and 11 of 15 on field goals. LSU struggled protecting punter Brad Dalfrey last week and South Carolina nearly blocked two punts. Plus, LSU’s return game, both kick and punt, has been largely ineffective lately.
Les Miles has faced Mark Richt only once- and it ended ugly in a 34-14 beatdown in the 2005 SEC Championship Game. Since then, however, Miles has enjoyed the most success winning an SEC title of his own, as well as the BCS top prize. Richt has an impeccable road record in the SEC, but his teams tend to lose games they shouldn’t. This one is a dead heat.
Both teams are desperate, in terms of their SEC and BCS championships hopes. A loss for either team and they are all but eliminated from the title hunt. Florida looms on the horizon for the Bulldogs, but don’t be expecting Georgia to be looking ahead. The Bulldogs haven’t been dominant in their last few games and LSU is at home, coming off a momentum building victory.