Week 5 - LSU at Georgia
LSU WR Jarvis Landry
LSU WR Jarvis Landry
Posted Sep 25, 2013

Week 5 Fearless Predictions & Preview - LSU at Georgia

LSU (4-0) at Georgia (2-1) Sept. 28 3:30, CBS

Why You Should Give A Hoot: These are strange times for the SEC.

It's still a nasty conference, but it's not quite as daunting as it looked just before the season, especially up top with Florida losing quarterback Jeff Driskel for the season, South Carolina already losing to Georgia, and Alabama not quite looking like the be-all, end-all No. 1 team in the land. That might be the winner of this game.

Yes, Clemson beat Georgia, but that was a road trip for the Dawgs that could've gone either way at the end – it's about as close to a push as it gets. However, Georgia did lose, meaning there's no margin for error the rest of the way if there's any hope of winning the national title. Fortunately, considering Florida's issues on offense, it might be smooth sailing the rest of the way after this. Missouri is better than you think, and going to Vanderbilt and Auburn might be landmines if the Dawgs aren't paying attention, but any team good enough to even think about playing for the whole ball of wax, and any team good enough to beat LSU, should be good enough to finish 11-1 with this schedule, get to the SEC championship, and have the puck on its stick for a shot at the national championship.

Unless it's a rematch with these Tigers.

A reasonable case could be made that LSU is the best team in the country right now. The defense might not be quite up to its normal LSU snuff, but it's loaded with athletes and talent, and it kicks it in when it absolutely has to. The key is an offense that's hitting its stride at just the right time. Jeremy Hill is doing what he's supposed to do for the running game, the line is healthy and productive, the receivers are night-and-day better, and Zach Mettenberger is playing like the NFL-caliber quarterback many thought he could be.

After beating TCU in the opener and dispatching of Auburn last week, it's time to go big game hunting. The Tigers still have to deal with Florida, Texas A&M, and road games at Mississippi State and Ole Miss, but the program has never had a huge issue with tough schedules. Losing in Athens wouldn't be the end of the world – run the table in the West and all should be fine – but a win would make a strong, strong case for the Tigers moving to at least No. 2. It would also mean Game On for the national title hunt.

Why LSU Might Win: Can the Georgia defensive front hold up against the pressure? Don't let the dominance against North Texas – 25 carries for seven yards – fool you; the Dawg front line can get gashed. Clemson and South Carolina were each able to run when needed, and LSU will try to establish the tempo early on with the bruising offensive line. Yes, Mettenberger has turned into the star of the show, and the game will eventually end up in his hands, but LSU is at its best when it's able to ground and pound. Lean, lean, lean, lean, lean, and then boom – the big play opens up. Hill is just the type of back who can come up with a few decent runs, and then take off and fly after the line allows a wee bit of an opening. Unlike recent LSU teams, the safeties have to respect the pass, so they can't cheat up to slow down Hill. It'll be a really, really big deal if the Tigers own the time of possession, however …

Why Georgia Might Win: Georgia has been fantastic and controlling the clock and the tempo. Todd Gurley's running is part of the reason the Dawgs are moving the chains with ease – life is easier with second-and-short – but the key is not getting into third down situations at all. Georgia hasn't been great on third downs, but Aaron Murray has made enough good plays to keep drives alive in key spots. The bigger overall question mark could be stamina - LSU hasn't played a complete sixty minutes yet. To be fair, the TCU and Auburn games were never really in doubt, but it would've been nice if the team closed a little bit stronger. Georgia has been far better battle tested, fighting with Clemson and South Carolina late and needing to try a wee bit too long against North Texas, and that's where Murray comes in. Brilliant so far, he's completing 72% of his passes and he's proving he can work just fine with any and all of his receivers, spreading it around well and keeping his poise under pressure. LSU has a nice pass rush, but Murray can get the ball out of his hands in a hurry.

Who To Watch Out For: Todd Gurley is starting to take a pounding. Fantastic against Clemson, busting off a few big runs on the way to a 154-yard day, he came back stronger against South Carolina and grinded a tough 30-carry games. North Texas and its good run defense bottled him up, for the most part, allowing a workmanlike 91 yards on 21 carries, and now LSU is going to focus on the same thing. Again, third and long will be vital for the Georgia offense, and for the Tigers, that starts with keeping Gurley from pounding for positive yards early.

- To go cliché, in a game like this, it's the little things that count. Georgia hasn't been that bad in terms of penalties, but the nine against Clemson were an issue. LSU has had major issues over the last two weeks, committing 11 sins against Kent State and ten against Auburn.
- Don't get hung up on Georgia being tied with North Texas at 21 in the third quarter. The Bulldogs completely and totally dominated the Mean Green, but they allowed two big special teams plays on a kickoff return for a score and a blocked punt for a touchdown. The Georgia offense did whatever it wanted.
- Zach Mettenberger is getting all the attention for the improvement in the LSU passing game, and he'll be in the spotlight during his return to Georgia, where he started out his career battling with Murray for a starting gig before being dismissed after pleading guilty to sexual battery charges. However, the improvement in the receiving corps has been just as important to the strides made forward by the offense. The route-running has been crisper, the NFL talents are playing like NFL talents, and at the moment, there might not be a stronger 1-2 combination in college football than Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

What Will Happen: Be ready to see this come down to late in the fourth quarter. Can Georgia's defense hold up, or will the offense simply outbomb its way to a win? Is LSU really ready to handle the pressure? The Tiger offense will be efficient enough and effective enough to keep up the pace, while the secondary will give Murray his toughest test yet. If this isn't the best LSU offense yet under Les Miles, it's the most effective – at least so far. The balance and running game will get the job done in a typical SEC classic.
Prediction: LSU 34 … Georgia 31
Line: Georgia -3 o/u: 61.5
Must See Rating: (5 Rush – 1 Dads) … 5
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