The SEC Championship Game goes down on Saturday between the 12-0 Georgia Bulldogs and the 9-3 LSU Tigers.
The Bulldogs come into the contest the top-ranked team in College Football, with the Tigers perched at No. 11. The defending champs look to continue their stretch of dominance, facing a Tigers team that has had some success under the new leadership of head coach Brian Kelly.
Both teams have reason to be extra hungry for the victory; however, Vegas sees the game as already over, with the Tigers as massive 18-and-a-half point dogs to Georgia. Is an upset possible, or will the Bulldogs prove the books right?
The Bulldogs will run out on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday as the #1 team in the country.
They allow the fewest points per game of any team at a mere 11.3 while also remaining among the best on offense, scoring on average around 38. That’s a 27-point margin for error. However, their schedule has been relatively weak, ranked as the 28th hardest.
Their only close matchup came in early November against Tennesee at home, with the Volunteers ranked 2nd at the time. Georgia won that contest 27-13, tame in comparison to some of their other victories against unranked squads.
Their dominance is yet to be evenly matched, but they do have some consistency issues. They shut out both Samford and Vanderbilt, scoring 55 points on the latter; however, they only managed 16 points against unranked Kentucky on the road just a few weeks ago.
They had over 360 yards of total offense, but two turnovers set them back, with Stetson Bennett throwing one of his just six picks this season.
Fortunately, their top-ranked D held the Wildcats to just six points. However, if the offense again struggles away from home, which we’ve seen happen, it’s unlikely that even the best defense can hold a good team like LSU to 6 points. If there’s a crack in the barreling boulder that is the Bulldogs, it’s consistency.
Though they’ve lost three games, and in the crazy world of college football, that sounds like a lot, the Tigers may have at least a better chance than the books are giving them credit for.
They are in their first season with head coach Brian Kelly and facing off against the experienced defending champs. But they are also in the SEC title game, with an opportunity to shock the world or at least make it interesting.
Is it going to be difficult for LSU’s 39th-ranked offense to face off against the best defense in the country? No doubt. But LSU has had flashes of explosive offense this season, scoring 45 in back-to-back games, first on the road against unranked Florida and then at home against No. 7-ranked Ole Miss, winning both contests.
Their schedule has been by no means the toughest either, but they did beat two top-ten teams in a row, knocking off No. 6-ranked Alabama the week after the Ole Miss victory.
It might sound absurd, but I’d take the points and pick LSU -18.5. A straight-up moneyline bet on LSU sounds a little too risky, but I think two and a half touchdowns is too large of a spread.
Vegas has the total points for the game set at 50 and a half, which appears modest when you consider that both teams have put up massive numbers at times this season.
Even though Georgia’s defense is no doubt elite, expect LSU to put up a fight and take the over.