ATLANTA, Ga. — Entering the SEC Championship Game against 2nd-ranked LSU, it was pretty much a given 4th-ranked Georgia would have to do two things to upset the explosive and unbeaten Tigers; namely, somehow hold a team that was averaging 48 points per game to under 30 while at the same time the Bulldogs scoring at least 30 points themselves against the LSU defense.
Georgia could do neither. With likely Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow riddling the Bulldogs’ secondary for 349 yards and four touchdowns on 28-of-38 completions and also running for 53 yards, not counting a loss of 12 yards from two Georgia sacks, and the Bulldog offense being held to a season-low 10 points, Ed Orgeron’s Tigers prowled to an easy 37-10 win.
Thus, while now 13-0 and No. 1 seeded LSU gets ready for a Dec. 28 CFP matchup against 4th-seeded Oklahoma, Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs (11-2) are headed for a Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl date with the also 11-2 Baylor Bears.
This week’s Stats That Matter are most agonizing for the Bulldawg Nation and clearly illustrate why Georgia went down in the SEC title game for a second consecutive year.
PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS , OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
Explosive plays? The Bulldogs had only one offensive play over 20 yards on the night … a 21-yard pass from Jake Fromm to Demetris Robertson late in the fourth quarter. At the same time, Burrow completed passes of 24, 41, 23 and 71 yards, the 71-yarder coming in the third period when he escaped a fierce Bulldog rush, scrambled to the right sidelines and, while moving, threw a strike to a wide-open Justin Jefferson downfield. LSU tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire also had a 20-yard run in the final period on a tiring Georgia defense.
The Bulldogs did play a clean game in the penalty department, being whistled only three times for just 17 yards. And a pass interference call against Eric Stokes was responsible for most of those yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES
Georgia punter Jake Camarda averaged 48.8 yards on four punts including one kick inside the LSU 20 but then, two of his punts sailed into the end zone for touchbacks. It was again a tough night for All-America place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium as he missed two of his three field goal tries, from 52 and 37 yards. He was true on a 39-yard kick.
The Georgia defense was sure tackling against the Tiger run game, limiting LSU to 132 yards on the ground with Edwards-Helaire gaining the majority of his 57 yards after the game was out of reach in the final quarter. But, except for second-half sacks by Devonte Wyatt and Jordan Davis, the Bulldogs couldn’t lay a hand on Burrow all night. He continually avoided the Georgia pass rush to throw a strike downfield to his talented receiving corps or, split the UGA defense and run for first down yardage.
Neither team lost a fumble and in his 38 pass attempts, the Bulldogs couldn’t pick Burrow off a single time. But with the Georgia running game held to a measly, season-low 61 net yards, Fromm had to throw the ball 42 times and was intercepted twice by LSU freshman corner Derek Stingley.
RED ZONE (OFFENSE, DEFENSE)
Showing the futility of the Georgia offense in this game, the Bulldogs drove inside the LSU 20 only two times, one of those excursions producing their lone touchdown of the night … a 2-yard pass from Fromm to George Pickens with 11:41 left in the game. And conversely, the Tigers were a perfect 4-of-4 scoring inside the red zone, cashing touchdowns on three of those trips.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
Another dismal showing in this area for the Dawgs as they could get first downs only three times in 13 chances. Georgia, however, was 3-of-3 converting fourth down opportunities. Burrow and the high-flying LSU attack were 9-of-16 converting third down chances.
RUN, PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)
The Bulldogs ran the ball 25 times for just the 61 yards and passed it 43 times, Fromm completing 20 of those for 225 yards. That’s 68 offensive snaps for 286 total yards. LSU rushed the ball 36 times for 132 yards and Burrow passed it the 38 times, completing 28, for 349 yards. That’s 74 offensive plays for the Tigers for a total of 481 yards.