SEC Championship Game Preview: LSU vs. Georgia

LSU QB Jayden Daniels has a 15/2 TD-INT ratio and 11 rushing TDs.

No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs vs. No. 14 LSU Tigers

Line: Georgia -17.5

Total: 52.5

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

When: Saturday, 12/3 at 4:00 p.m. ET

TV: CBS

The 2022 SEC Championship lost some of its luster when LSU was officially eliminated from the College Football Playoff discussion following a loss to Texas A&M last week.

The Tigers still have an opportunity to play spoiler and claim their first SEC title since 2019, though. They will be up against a stiff challenge, as top-ranked Georgia wrapped up its perfect regular season with a blowout win over Georgia Tech last week.

Oddsmakers opened Georgia as a 16-point favorite in this matchup, but the early betting action has pushed the line up to -17.5 as of Thursday afternoon. Saturday afternoon’s total opened at 50.5 and has been moved to 52.5. These teams have gone ‘over’ the total in seven of their last nine meetings, with the most recent being a 37-10 win for LSU in the 2019 SEC title game.

Georgia is now riding a 14-game winning streak that dates back to last season’s College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs have not dropped a game since falling to Alabama in last year’s conference championship.

“We’re worried about winning the SEC championship,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “That’s the most important thing on our agenda. It’s tough to win an SEC championship. I’ve been part of this league for a long time. I have almost as many national championships as I do SEC championships.”

They have not been as dominant as they were at times last season, facing a first-quarter deficit for the third time this season after Georgia Tech scored a touchdown on its first drive last week. The Bulldogs held the Yellow Jackets to -2 total yards on their first five second-half possessions before allowing a touchdown in garbage time.

They have now allowed just 12 points per game over their past six games, giving up a nation-best 11.3 points per game overall this season. Veteran quarterback Stetson Bennett has thrown for multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games after throwing two against Georgia Tech. Bennett completed just 55.2% of his attempts in that win though, marking the second time in five games he has been held under the 60% mark.

He is facing an LSU defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 53.4% of pass attempts and throw a combined three touchdowns over its past five games. The Tigers are playing in their first season under head coach Brian Kelly and were in contention for a CFP berth prior to their loss to the Aggies as 10-point favorites.

They lost to Florida State in their season opener and were blasted by Tennessee on Oct. 1, but they responded with a five-game winning streak that included wins over then-No. 7 Ole Miss and then-No. 6 Alabama. LSU will now be hoping to stay in contention for a New Year’s Day bowl game appearance.

Quarterback Jayden Daniels failed to record a touchdown for the second time in three outings last week, but he has thrown for 2,566 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season. Daniels is also the team’s leading rusher with 824 yards and 11 touchdowns.

LSU has gone ‘over’ the total in five of its last six games, covering the spread in four of those games. Georgia has gone ‘under’ in 10 of its last 14 games and is 7-2 ATS in its last nine December contests.

The pick: LSU +17.5

LSU’s rough performance at Texas A&M last week has led to some inflation in the betting market heading into Saturday’s title bout. The Tigers should be able to bounce back from a motivational standpoint, as they are playing under a first-year head coach and have an opportunity to play in a marquee bowl game. They have won multiple conference games against quality opponents by double digits, along with taking down Alabama as double-digit underdogs last month. Georgia will be more worried about staying healthy down the stretch of this game, so LSU just needs to stay in touch in the first half to be in a good position to cover the number.

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