SEC Championship Preview 2022: LSU vs. Georgia
This year's version of the SEC championship game pits two teams on different paths this season, but they are certainly no stranger to the big stage.
A rare SEC championship game that doesn’t feature the Crimson Tide will take place Saturday afternoon, largely due to LSU beating Alabama earlier this season. Georgia is back after falling short in the championship game last season against Alabama, although they got their revenge in the national championship game.
LSU is the most recent SEC champion that is not named Alabama, winning the game in 2019 in blowout fashion over Georgia en-route to one of the greatest college seasons of all time. This time around though, its Georgia chasing immortality.
The Bulldogs are a perfect 12-0 on the season, and are ranked No. 1 in the entire country. Last season Georgia won the national championship on the backs of its historically great defense, but this season the offense has stepped it up.
Stetson Bennett is back for his senior season after leading the Bulldogs last season in the face of a quarterback controversy. This season he has taken his game up a notch, serving as the cool and steady leader for this team.
His 84.9 QBR ranks sixth in the nation, and he has only thrown for six interceptions despite starting all 12 games.
He has a star group of pass-catchers to throw the ball to in his standout tight end room. Led by sophomore standout Brock Bowers, the room consists of Bowers, Arik Gilbert, and Darnell Washington. The tight end room in Georgia has been applauded as the single best position group in the country, and for good reason.
According to PFF, all three of the Bulldog tight ends rank in the top-15 in the country, with Bowers coming in at one, Gilbert at three and Washington at 14. Throw in star wide receiver Ladd McConkey and running back Kenny McIntosh, and LSU will have its hands full trying to slow down this Georgia offense.
Shifting things to the LSU side of the showdown, this matchup has lost some of its significance for the Tigers. The Tigers were the fifth-ranked team in the country coming into last week when they went into Kyle Field to take on the 4-7 Texas A&M Aggies.
The Tigers got caught looking ahead, and fell to the Aggies 38-23, effectively ending any chance they had at earning a playoff berth. While LSU’s playoff chances may be extinguished, there is still plenty to play for.
The Tigers would bring home an SEC championship and likely secure a New Year’s Six bowl game with a win, still a very successful season.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels is a huge part of the reason why the Tigers are where they are.
Daniels has been one of the best players in the nation at taking care of the ball, evidenced by the fact that he has only thrown two interceptions all year, which is tied for third-best in the nation. Daniels has 15 passing touchdowns on the year, but has also racked up 824 yards on the ground along with 11 rushing touchdowns.
The Tigers have been battle tested all year, facing off against top-10 teams in Tennessee, Alabama, and Ole Miss, but they have yet to see a defense like Georgia’s. Daniels has to lean on what he is best at, and that is taking what the defense gives him and being smart with the football.
Georgia can be very frustrating to play against, and that frustration can lead to even more mistakes. Daniels must play within himself and not put the ball in harm's way to have a chance in this one.
Georgia may be in the College Football Playoffs no matter the result of this game, but that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs have nothing to play for. An SEC championship is absolutely huge for these programs, and Georgia has lost its last three appearances in the game.
A win would mean maintaining the No. 1 seed in the playoff, likely giving Georgia a more favorable matchup in the round of four. If LSU wants to have any chance of winning, the Tigers must keep Georgia’s point total as low as possible because scoring on that defense will not be easy.
Georgia has the clear upper-hand in this contest, but as LSU saw last week, anything can happen in the world of college football and that’s what makes it so great.
Georgia and LSU square off in Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Jameson Kramer is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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