When No. 4 Georgia and No. 2 LSU face off in the SEC championship game on Saturday, two of the best units in college football will go head-to-head.
LSU has the second-highest scoring offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, averaging almost 49 points per game. Ready to stop them is the Georgia defense, which enters the game as the second-best scoring defense in the country, allowing just over 10 points per game.
But the Bulldogs will have their hands full with star quarterback Joe Burrow and a couple of Biletnikoff Award finalists in wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Jordan Jefferson. The Tigers’ high-powered offense has carried them to a perfect 12-0 record.
Burrow has flourished under LSU’s new offense implemented by passing game
coordinator Joe Brady. The senior quarterback is second in the country in passing yards and passing touchdowns, and he’s the odds-on favorite to claim the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player.
But Burrow’s passing ability isn’t the only thing the Georgia defense is preparing for.
“He’s so elusive. He doesn’t go down easy,” linebacker Azeez Ojulari said. “He can throw those 50-50 balls. He’s just a great quarterback overall — a Heisman candidate. So, a great quarterback.”
Burrow also had praise for Georgia, calling the Bulldogs’ defense one of the two or three best in the country.
“They play sound in their scheme,” Burrow said. “You can tell they’re coached very well. So it’s going to be a tall task for us.”
As successful as both units have been, neither Georgia’s defense nor LSU’s offense has seen an opponent as good as what it will face in the SEC championship game.
Georgia senior safety J.R. Reed said Chase will be a receiver that can cause serious problems for the Bulldogs’ secondary.
“He gets a lot of yards after catch,” Reed said. “His catch radius is all over the place. So even when defenders are in good position, he can go up and get the ball. That’s just one of the things that makes him such a great receiver.”
As Georgia’s best cover corner, Eric Stokes will likely be matched up with Chase for much of the game, and he knows exactly what he’ll be in for against the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns.
“He’s a 1,000-yard receiver, so you already know,” Stokes said. “He’s a great 50-50 ball player. He always gets open somehow. He’s a bigger body, and he’s got some moves on him.”
As if Chase wasn’t enough, the Bulldogs will have to deal with Jefferson as well, who sits just behind Chase within the FBS top five in receiving touchdowns. Both have been go-to targets for Burrow, racking up 2,549 yards between them.
The conference title and a shot at the College Football Playoff are on the line. The matchup could be won and lost between Georgia’s defense and Burrow, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the rest of LSU’s offense. Both units will be ready for the challenge.
“You just have to embrace it,” Stokes said. “They’re ready to go to war, too.”