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In what’s the most immediately impactful game to be played on Saturday, two current College Football Playoff (CFP) selectees will face off in the Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta, Georgia with the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs facing the second-ranked LSU Tigers. The Tigers are led by Heisman-favorite Joe Burrow who has put together a monster season thus far. On the other side of the field, the Bulldogs are led by junior quarterback Jake Fromm whose largely pedestrian season can instantly be made up for with a win in this one. Let’s take a deeper look at this matchup of SEC goliaths and see where we can find an edge.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. LSU Tigers
Saturday, December 7th, 2019 – 4:00 pm EST
LSU -7, O/U 55 (via PointsBet)
To say Burrow has had a historic season for the Tigers might be the understatement of the year. Trough 12 regular-season games, Burrow has thrown for 4,366 yards and 44 touchdowns to become the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 40 scores. In a league known for record-setting, Burrow is in a league of his own and has played behind one of the most dominant offensive lines in the country. One of the reasons this LSU offense has had to put up so many points, ranking second in the nation in scoring 48.7 per game, is a defensive unit that has has been vulnerable in spots. Having given up 37 points or more to the likes of Texas, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, this Tigers’ defensive unit has forced Burrows and the offense to be nothing short of spectacular for most of the season. One area the Tigers have been particularly vulnerable — that could catch up with them in this one — is in the defense of the run where they have allowed 125.2 yards per game and average of 3.71 yards per carry.
For the Dawgs and head coach Kirby Smart, another season has brought another shot at the CFP as a win in this one no doubt secures their spot in the final four. A loss, however, likely sends them the way of their biggest rival Alabama, a place Smart and Fromm are equally unfamiliar with. The story for the Dawgs this season, even more so than their typical dominance, has been the establishment of one of the best defenses in all of college football. Through 12 regular-season games, the Dawgs’ defense ranks second in the nation allowing just 10.4 points per game and have allowed just 11 touchdowns through the air in the last 11 games. Another area this Georgia defense excels in is getting teams off the field on third down, with a conversation rate of just 28% for opposing offenses. On the offensive side of the ball, junior running back D’Andre Swift once again leads the SEC in rushing with 1,203 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. If the Dawgs want to compete in this one, however, Fromm will need to turn in his best game of the season in an attempt to keep pace with Burrows and this electric Tigers’ passing game.
I expect this game to be one of the most competitive of the Saturday slate, as it pits one of the nation’s top three offenses against one of easily it’s top three defenses. While Burrow has faced some stiff competition, he hasn’t yet seen the level of talent and discipline of this Georgia defense, and I expect him to (somewhat) struggle accordingly. I do expect Burrow and the Tigers to ultimately hold on late to secure a sure-fire CFP birth, but I see Georgia keeping it close on the back of their defense. I also expect a better-than-typical performance from Swift and especially Fromm, who has the most big-game experience of any quarterback playing all day.