Written by Ryan Lippert
With the 2019 college football regular season coming to an end this past weekend, we are now looking forward to the conference championship week this Saturday. While there are multiple games that will have a major impact on the final College Football Playoff rankings, the biggest one will be in the Southeastern Conference. Both teams are currently sitting in the playoff with LSU ranked second and Georgia in the fourth spot. The Bulldogs must win this game to stay in the playoff. If they do, things will get interesting as it will only be LSU’s first loss of the season. With multiple seasons being on the line depending on the outcome of this game, let’s take a deeper look at this year’s SEC Championship matchup between the LSU Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs.
Will the Legend of Joe Burrow Continue?
Coming into the 2019 college football season, everyone knew that Joe Burrow was a decent starting quarterback. However, I don’t think anyone saw him being this good. Burrow has taken the college football world by storm as he has led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season while putting himself at the top of the Heisman trophy list and in the first overall draft pick discussion. He finished the regular season completing 78.3% of his passes for 4,366 yards, 44 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. To make things easier for him, the Tigers had two receivers with over 1,000 receiving yards in sophomore Ja’Marr Chase and junior Justin Jefferson. Chase has been the leading man with 70 receptions for 1,457 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jefferson leads the team in receptions with 81 for 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns. They will be facing a Georgia secondary that has been up and down against the pass this season but has stepped up lately. The Bulldogs have allowed 186 passing yards per game and 11 total passing touchdowns while coming away with six interceptions so far.
Burrow and the passing game will hope to get some help from their electric junior running back who has had a breakout season this year. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been outstanding this season as he leads the Tigers with 1,233 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 182 carries. He will face his toughest challenge yet this Saturday as he will be going up against a Georgia defense that has been very stingy against the run so far. They have allowed 71 rushing yards per game and only one rushing touchdown so far this season.
Can Fromm Lead the Bulldogs to Another Playoff Berth?
Quarterback Jake Fromm first made a name for himself in the 2017 season as he led the Georgia Bulldogs to an upset victory over Alabama in the SEC Championship to put the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff. This led to the Bulldogs making it to the National Championship where they lost in a rematch with the Crimson Tide. After failing to make the playoff last season, Fromm and the Bulldogs have an opportunity to do what they did in 2017, hopefully with a better end result of course.
This season, Fromm has continued to make his case as a 2020 first-round draft prospect. He finished the regular season completing 61.98% of his passes for 2,385 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. Fromm benefited from having two receivers with over 400 receiving yards each in freshman George Pickens and grad transfer Lawrence Cager. Pickens currently leads the Bulldogs receiving core with 33 receptions for 498 yards and six touchdowns. He will, unfortunately, have to miss the first half this Saturday due to a fight that he was involved in against Georgia Tech this past weekend. With Pickens being out for the first half, Fromm will be relying on Cager as his top option. Cager has 33 receptions for 476 yards and four touchdowns while only playing in nine games this season. They will be facing the most talented secondary they have played so far this season, led by two likely 2020 first-round draft picks in safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Kristian Fulton. However, it is a true freshman that has been the face of this secondary and arguably the best defensive back in the country in cornerback Derek Stingley. Stingley leads the Tigers with four interceptions and 14 pass breakups. As a whole, this Tigers secondary has allowed 221.42 passing yards per game with 19 total passing touchdowns while coming away with 14 interceptions so far.
Much like LSU, the Bulldogs have an athletic playmaker of their own at running back that they will be relying on to take some pressure off the passing game. Junior D’Andre Swift has continued to make his case as a top-level NFL Draft prospect this season as he leads the Bulldogs with 1,203 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 193 carries. His back up, senior running back Brian Herrien has found success as well, rushing for 466 yards and six touchdowns of his own on 95 carries. They will be facing an LSU defense that has been up and down against the run this season, allowing 124.5 rushing yards per game and twelve total rushing touchdowns so far.
The entire country, especially the teams with playoff aspirations, will have their eyes focused on this game on Saturday. As I already alluded to, if LSU beats Georgia, the Bulldogs are out. However, if Georgia knocks off the Tigers, things get extremely interesting. With their seasons being on the line, I see this game coming down to the wire. It will be a true quarterback dual as Burrow and Fromm are two tested veterans who are both top-level talents at the position. They will both make big-time throws throughout the game to keep their teams in the game. However, I see the talent-rich LSU offense taking over in the end and Burrow putting together a game-winning drive. I have the Tigers escaping with a 28-24 victory, making room for most likely either Utah or Oklahoma to grab the final spot in the College Football Playoff.