ATLANTA — The old adage “defense wins championships” didn’t hold up in the SEC championship game. The Football Bowl Subdivision’s second-best scoring defense at Georgia could not contain the nation’s second-best scoring offense at LSU.
It wasn’t even close. No. 4 Georgia fell to No. 2 LSU 37-10 in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia’s stingy defense was no challenge for LSU’s prolific offense led by quarterback Joe Burrow. Georgia’s opponents had averaged 257 yards and just over 10 points per game throughout the regular season. LSU finished with 481 total yards, with Burrow accounting for 349 yards himself, going 28-for-38.
The Bulldogs’ defense was stumped, and they didn’t have the offense to keep the game in reach, either. Jake Fromm finished 20-of-42 for 225 yards and a touchdown, but offensive mistakes and a lack of consistent production kept the comeback out of Georgia’s reach.
Two consecutive, critical drives in the third quarter — one from LSU and one from Georgia — paint a clear picture of the SEC championship game.
The Tigers put the game comfortably out of reach off the Heisman favorite’s Heisman moment. Burrow scrambled against Georgia pressure from all angles to complete a 71-yard pass to Justin Jefferson. The chunk play placed LSU inside Georgia’s 10-yard line and set the Tigers up to score a touchdown three plays later, extending an LSU lead to 27-3 with 2:18 to go in the third quarter.
Once Georgia got the ball back, Fromm threw an interception to Derek Stingley Jr. on first down. The pass, meant for wide receiver George Pickens, landed LSU back in the red zone on Georgia’s 13-yard line, and its offense scored another touchdown, bringing the lead to 34-3.
Georgia mustered its first touchdown drive when the game was too far gone. A 13-play, 75-yard drive kept the SEC championship game from being the only one where Georgia failed to score a touchdown. Other than that, a 34-10 score in the fourth quarter proved daunting for the Bulldogs.
LSU went on to score a 50-yard field goal to finish off the Bulldogs at 37-10.
Things were already bleak for Georgia heading into halftime. Its stagnant offense had fallen behind by two touchdowns after 30 minutes, and a highly-touted Georgia defense failed to contain Burrow early. At the half, he had already passed for more yards (204) than Georgia’s offense had accumulated altogether (138).
Few things went right for Georgia on Saturday. Fromm was sacked three times and threw two interceptions. The Bulldogs failed to establish a consistent run game and was held to only 61 yards on the ground.
D’Andre Swift, the regular season’s leading rusher, wasn’t at full strength. He carried the ball twice for 13 yards and caught three receptions for 18 yards.
Wide receiver George Pickens, who finished the game as Georgia’s top receiver, didn’t enter the game until the third quarter and caught the ball just four times despite being targeted nine times. Pickens finished with 54 yards.
Offensively, the Bulldogs put up 286 yards and lost time of possession 33:38 to 26:22.
Georgia’s College Football Playoff hopes are gone. Ranked No. 4 by the committee, the Bulldogs inevitably fall out of contention for the national championship. LSU, No. 2 in the CFP rankings, will move on to the playoff and still have a chance to clinch the title.