#4 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #2 LSU Tigers
Saturday, December 7, 2019 @ 4 PM EST
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)
UGA (+220), LSU (-270) UGA +7.5 (-105), LSU -7.5 (-115)
College Football Playoff Breakdown
This championship is exactly what the creators of the CFP had in mind when the playoff started back in the 2014-15 season: No. 2 vs. No. 4 with at least one playoff spot on the line and a potential for both the winner and loser to make it in. The CFP currently looks like this: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Georgia and No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Clemson.
Ohio State and Clemson should clinch their spots in the Playoff by taking care of business in their respective conference championship games. Fifth-ranked Utah couldn't recover after a slow start in last night's Pac-12 Championship game, as it got dominated on the ground by CJ Verdell and lost 37-15 to No. 13 Oregon, eliminating the Pac-12 from Playoff contention. Utah's second loss all-but-guaranteed that the winner of the Big 12 Championship -- No. 7 Baylor or No. 6 Oklahoma -- will take the fourth spot in the CFP.
Game Preview: Georgia Bulldogs
For the third straight season, Jake Fromm and Georgia have won at least 11 games and entered championship weekend with a shot at making the CFP. But it hasn't always been easy this year, as the Bulldogs offense has been underwhelming at times, including their 20-17 Week 6 loss to a South Carolina team that finished 4-8 on the year. Junior quarterback Jake Fromm has completed more than 50% of his passes in just one of the last five games and has not completed more than 49% of his passes since their win against Florida on November 2. Despite his shockingly low completion percentage, Fromm has thrown for 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last four games.
Unfortunately for Fromm and the rest of the Bulldogs offense, wide receiver George Pickens will not play during the first half of Saturday's SEC Championship game, as a result of a suspension that he received for fighting a Georgia Tech defender in the third quarter of last week's game, and wide receiver Lawrence Cager will not be ready to return after he suffered an ankle injury during practice last Wednesday that could take "several weeks" to heal, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach. The loss of Cager and Pickens (for the first half) could be the difference in the game, as SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic pointed out, Jake Fromm has completed 73% of his passes when targeting Cager or Pickens this season and only 53% of his passes when targeting anyone else.
Of course, Georgia's offense will need to keep up with LSU, but the most important aspect of the game will be the Bulldogs' ability to slow down Joe Burrow and the high-flying Tigers offense. If there's a team that could do it, it would have to be the Georgia Bulldogs, as they rank fourth in the country in total defense (257 YPG) and second in scoring defense (10.4 PPG). Georgia ranks third in the country in pass efficiency defense and has allowed the fewest plays of 30+ yards of any team in the SEC this season (eight). The Bulldogs rush defense has been suffocating this year, as well, allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game (71 YPG) and just ONE rushing touchdown all season (Auburn's Bo Nix ran for a two-yard touchdown in the Bulldogs' 21-14 Week 10 win).
Game Preview: LSU Tigers
Geaux Tigers, geaux. While it's hard to say that nobody saw this coming after LSU's resurgence under Coach O (25-9 record since taking over as an interim head coach), you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who said LSU would be a dominant offensive team with four top-10 wins and an undefeated record. It's no secret who the star of this team is, as quarterback Joe Burrow has risen to the occasion this year, completing 78.3% of his passes (1st in FBS) for 4,366 yards (2nd in FBS), 44 touchdowns (2nd in FBS) and just six interceptions. The senior quarterback was also the second-most efficient passer in the country this season, trailing only Tua Tagovailoa.
But, of course, Joe Burrow didn't do it all by himself. He got quite a bit of help from the nation's best receiver and a surefire All-American, Ja'Marr Chase, who I'll talk about later, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was named a Doak Walker Award semi-finalist. Edwards-Helaire had an unbelievable season, running for 1,233 yards and 16 touchdowns on nearly seven yards per carry. He has been especially explosive in the past five weeks, as he's run for 686 yards and nine touchdowns on almost seven and a half yards per carry. In LSU's 56-20 drubbing of Arkansas, Edwards-Helaire needed just six carries to run for 188 yards and three touchdowns. While this Tigers offense is capable of breaking the game wide open at any point, they'll likely be tested even more than they were in their road win against Alabama, so they'll need to execute at their highest level this season if they want a shot at the No. 1 ranking heading into the College Football Playoff.
On defense, the Tigers will need to use their strong run defense to try and limit D'Andre Swift's production and put more pressure on Jake Fromm, whose completion percentage has been dreadful as of late. With the exception of the Ole Miss game, the Tigers run defense has been outstanding this season (outside of the 402 rushing yards they allowed against Ole Miss, the Tigers have allowed just 99.2 YPG on the ground this year).
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