The No. 4 ranked Georgia Bulldogs will travel to Atlanta on Saturday for yet another SEC Title Game. Their opponents this year will be No. 2 LSU, with the winner all but guaranteed a place in the College Football Playoff while the loser could find themselves on the outside looking in, especially if it is the Bulldogs that fall at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
The health of D’Andre Swift
The Bulldogs have a number of injuries that spell concern heading into this game. The most important of those injuries – based on how the Bulldogs want to play – is the shoulder injury that is troubling starting RB D’Andre Swift. Swift left the beat down that the Bulldogs put in rival Georgia Tech last weekend with what was classed as a ‘shoulder contusion’ and didn’t return to the game. Updates since then have trended from “he’s fine” to it now being a case of the coaching staff being “hopeful” Swift will play.
The worry here is that even if Swift starts the game – and a betting man would assume that he is – a shoulder injury can easily be re-aggravated if it is not fully healed. All it takes is one hit or one fall into the bottom of a pile for the pain to come back and – potentially – force Swift out of the game. Swift is a lethal component of the offense and he is the major player that takes the carries and the heat off of QB Jake Fromm. His over 1,200 yards rushing and seven touchdowns will be missed if he can’t go this weekend.
Slow down Joe Burrow
There is no way to stop Joe Burrow in 2019. His season has been one for the ages, one where he basically looks like he is playing a video game with a cheat mode on to make him unstoppable. Burrow has completed at least 70% of his passes in every game he has played this season and against an Alabama D that doesn’t let people pass the ball – seconf in the nation in interceptions and allowing an average of 184.4 yards per game – Burrow went off for almost 400 yards passing and three scores on 31-of-39 completions.
Burrow has – in total – passed for 4,366 yards and 44 touchdowns with just six interceptions. The Bulldogs can’t stop him cold, but they can do enough to put him off of his epic season. One problem Burrow could face is that he simply hasn’t had a bad game all year. Maybe – just maybe – if the Georgia front four can get some pressure and make Burrow play from behind the chains early he won’t know how to react. If so, then it will be time to pounce.
Keep the game close
The worst thing that could happen to Georgia in this one is for the Bulldogs to concede a couple of early scores to the Tigers and find themselves in a hole early. LSU averages 48.7 points per game – second in the nation – while Georgia averages 32.9 points per game, which is good for just 40th in scoring offense.
Georgia needs to make this a grind. It needs to make this a 60 minute game where the outcome is stil in question with 10 minutes to go. The Bulldogs don’t have the offense to run away and hide before halftime – the only blowout chance would favor the Tigers – so the running game and efficient passing work behind the huge offensive line has to be on point.
Keep the game close and strike with a late score to upset the apple cart.