Vince’s View: SEC Championship analysis, notes and score prediction


2019 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

#4 Georgia (V) vs. #2 LSU (H)
Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 • 4 p.m. ET (4 p.m. ET)
Atlanta, Ga. • Mercedes-Benz Stadium (73,000)
CBS Sports

THE TEAMS:  Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC) is the Eastern Division Champion and the visiting team. LSU (12-0, 8-0 SEC) is the Western Division Champion and the home team. Georgia and LSU are two of just three teams in the nation with seven wins vs. teams with a winning record.

NATIONAL RANKINGS:  LSU comes into the game as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation in the Associated Press and USA Today polls. Georgia is the No. 4-ranked team in the nation. This is the second consecutive season of a top five matchup in the SEC Championship Game, the first such occurrence since 2012 and 2013.

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:  Only once since 2006 (2014) has the winner of the SEC Championship Game failed to advance to the national championship game. The game, which started in 1992, is in its 28th year. It was a result of conference expansion, which saw Arkansas and South Carolina become the first members added in SEC history. Over 1.8 million fans have witnessed the pageantry of the game first-hand, with 25 sellouts in its history, including the last 24 consecutive contests. (Only 1993 and 1995 were not). The first two games were played at Legion Field in Birmingham and the game was played at the Georgia Dome from 1994-2016. This will mark the third SEC Championship Game played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

SEC CHAMPIONS:  Georgia will be vying for its 14th SEC Championship and second in the last three seasons. LSU is aiming for its 12th SEC Championship and first since 2011.

TELEVISION:  CBS Sports will televise the game nationally for the 18th straight year (BRAD NESSLER, Play-by-Play; GARY DANIELSON, Analyst; JAMIE ERDAHL, Sidelines; CRAIG SILVER, Producer). CBS has aired the game nationally since 2001. ABC Sports televised the game from 1992-2000.

TV RATINGS:  Last season’s SEC Championship Game between Georgia and Alabama was the most-watched and highest-rated regular-season college football game on any network in seven years with a 10.1/23 rating/share and 17.5 million viewers. It also marked the second most-watched SEC Championship ever in 26 years since the game debuted in 1992. The 2009 SEC Championship Game earned an 11.8 rating and a 24 share, marking the highest-rated SEC Championship Game in history. The game matched the No. 1 Florida Gators (12-0) vs. the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0).

RADIO:  Managed by IMG College, the SEC Radio Network will broadcast the game to the 11-state SEC region and around the nation on SiriusXM. (SEC Radio Network: DAVE NEAL, Play-by-Play; DAVE ARCHER, Analyst; STEPHEN HARTZELL, Sidelines). The broadcast can be heard on Sirius 137, XM 190. The Georgia Radio Network is on Sirius 139, XM 191 and the LSU Radio Network is on Sirius 84, XM 84.

SERIES:  Georgia and LSU will meet for the 32nd time on Saturday, with LSU leading the all-time series 17-13-1. The two teams last squared off during the 2018 regular season in Baton Rouge, with LSU winning 36-16. It was Georgia’s only loss of the season entering the SEC Championship Game. Georgia leads the SEC and is second nationally in Scoring Defense, allowing just 10.4 points a game while LSU ranks first in the league and second nationally in Scoring Offense at 48.7 points per game. Georgia and Clemson are the only FBS teams not to allow more than 20 points in a game this season. Georgia is 7-3 against top 10 teams in the Kirby Smart era, including 2-0 this year. Two of the games so far have been on the road and six have come at neutral sites, including two victories in Jacksonville the last two years. The Bulldogs are 1-5 all-time against a top-ranked team and all five games have been at neutral sites. Currently, LSU is ranked No. 1 in the AP and Coaches poll. Ed Orgeron is 9-3 versus Top 10 opponents as the head coach at LSU.

IN THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:  LSU and Georgia are meeting in the SEC championship game for the fourth time; only Alabama and Florida have met more frequently (nine times). The Tigers won two of the previous three meetings. Georgia is the third school to reach three straight SEC championship games. Florida appeared in each of the first five (1992-96) and Alabama has a pair of three-game streaks (1992-94 and 2014-16). LSU is an SEC-best 4-1 in SEC Championship Games, while Georgia is 3-4 in its previous seven appearances.

POINT SPREAD:  LSU -7 (opened LSU -4)

VINCE’S VIEW:  I think this game comes down to winning the rushing battle, pace of play and the return of peak Jake Fromm.

If Georgia can run the ball well and keep LSU from being balanced on offense with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Bulldogs will have a shot. If Georgia runs the ball, chews-up clock and limits the offensive possessions for LSU, it could force the Tigers to play a style of game they haven’t had to but once all season. If so, you never know how they respond.

LSU is getting healthier and better on defense and they’re loaded with elite talent, so just because LSU hasn’t been in a many tight, lower-scoring game, that doesn’t mean they won’t still find a way to win.

Joe Burrow and those elite receivers haven’t been slowed down all season. Even though Georgia’s secondary with JR Reed and Richard LeCounte will probably be the toughest test of the season for LSU’s explosive offense, Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrance Marshall Jr will still be almost impossible to slow down.

I don’t think Georgia can’t win a shootout with LSU, even if Jake Fromm returns to his elite form. I think Fromm has been the victim of inconsistent receiver play (especially when Cager is out) and lots of rain games impacting his wet ball throws. Fromm played maybe his best game of his career against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game last season. Without WR Lawrence Cager for the game and WR George Pickens for the first half, it may be difficult to duplicate his performance unless a new star emerges.

I think Georgia’s defense and offensive line give the Bulldogs a shot. In the end though, LSU will have too many weapons and too many ways to win, while Georgia needs numerous things to fall into place. I don’t think Georgia gets blown out like many believe.

SCORE PREDICTION:  LSU 38 Georgia 27


Find more of my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net

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