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Behind the Hedges: SEC Championship, Expert Picks and Predictions

The Odds



















The Details

Kickoff: Saturday, December 3rd in Atlanta, GA at Mercedes Benz Stadium

When: 3:00 pm EST

How to Watch: CBS

Public Bets: LSU, 61%

Public Money: Georgia, 75%

All odds Courtesy of DraftKings, as of 12/1

The Hardware

Read all of Brian's UGA Coverage Here

The #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs take on the #14 LSU Tigers in the Mercedes-Benz stadium this Saturday at 4pm. Few would have imagined that this would be the matchup for the SEC Championship at the beginning of the season.

Yet, after a rocky start to the season, Brian Kelly has helped the Tigers find their team identity, and has rolled with an unlikely QB to a 9-3 season.

LSU lost the season opener against Florida State by 1 point before going on a win streak. Then, the Tennessee Volunteers took them behind the woodshed in a 40-13 rout at Death Valley.

After the game, the team captains called a players-only meeting which has turned the season around. They responded with back-to-back wins over top 10 teams with an upset over Ole Miss and then Alabama. Just when it seemed like LSU had an outside chance to make the CFB Playoff with an upset of Georgia, they shockingly lost their final game of the season to the Aggies by 15 points. 


Despite their inconsistent play throughout the season, the Tigers have a chance to hang a new banner in the stadium as they face off against a UGA offense that can’t seem to put everything together for 4 quarters. 

Jayden Daniels

LSU lost their top two choices at the beginning of the season at quarterback. Miles Brennan retired from football right before the season began, and Max Johnson transferred to A&M to play football with his brother. Insert Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels. The 4th year from San Bernardino is one of the best athletes at the quarterback position in the nation.

He has only 4 more throwing touchdowns than he does rushing and leads the team in both passing and rushing yards. He has posted almost 200 yards more than Georgia’s leading rusher on the season. Best of all, he rises to the level of competition. His completion rate and QBR only go up when he plays against ranked opponents. Towards the end of the game last week, he injured his ankle and is reportedly walking around in a boot this week. However, a high ankle sprain has been ruled out. LSU needs him to be 100% against Georgia this week, or their offense will struggle to score. 

The Receivers

Daniels has plenty of weapons to work with on the offense. LSU has a trio of effective running backs: Josh Williams, Noah Cain, and John Emery Jr. Williams should return from injury this week, which is great news for the Tigers. Williams and Emery are more of a threat catching the ball out of the backfield than Cain is, and all backs average 4.9 YPC or higher. Combined with Daniels’ legs, these three backs will need a great game to control the tempo and keep Georgia’s offense off of the field.

Out wide, the Tigers have plenty of talent. Kayshon Boutte is the biggest name on the roster at receiver, yet he is second on the team in receiving behind sophomore Malik Nabers. Yet each of these receivers only has 1 touchdown each on the year. Daniels appears to favor his taller options of 6’2 Jaray Jenkins and 6’4 Brian Thomas Jr in the red zone. 

Offensively, the Tigers are filled with solid talent at the skill positions. Where they lack experience, but not talent, is at offensive tackle. They are starting two highly-touted true freshman in the tackle positions. Look for Georgia to try to take advantage of their lack of experience, but also look out for Will Campbell and Emery Jones in the future. These guys are studs. 

The Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, LSU has several playmakers in the front 7. BJ Ojulari is as solid of a defensive end as you can find in college football. His brother, former UGA player Azeez Ojulari, has been talking smack to him this week. UGA will want to make sure he can’t add to his 5 sacks on the season. He plays alongside freshman phenom Harold Perkins. Perkins nearly single-handedly secured LSU’s win over Arkansas recording 4 sacks and forcing two fumbles. He’s the kind of defender that UGA will identify on each snap, especially as he is used on the edge, inside, and in the slot. Perkins and Ojulari will need to create some havoc in the Georgia backfield to secure a win for the Tigers. They’ll be the most formidable pairing that UGA has faced this season in the pass rush.


The Dawgs

Georgia is coming off of two uninspiring performances against Kentucky and Georgia Tech. The Dawgs have recently shifted back to a run-first offense, which has allowed RB Kenny McIntosh to flourish. McIntosh is Georgia’s most versatile back, as he has led the Dawgs in receiving yards twice this season. As their power back, Kendall Milton is regaining his health and has busted runs of over 30 yards in the 4th quarter the last two games. Georgia may look to use Milton to grind down an undersized LSU defensive line as the game goes on. 

Stetson Bennett

6th year QB Stetson Bennett has had the fewest passing attempts for the season the last two games, and he hasn’t exactly looked sharp when he has thrown the ball. Bennett continues to be a QB who can make the big throws and get yards on the ground when needed. Yet, he also continues to be the QB who will make 1-3 turnover-worthy plays each game. I expect UGA to throw the ball more this game than the last two games, so the Mailman needs to be prepared to deliver yet again. If Stetson gets a fade before the game, look out. He’s about to ball out. 

Tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington deserve all the national media attention that they can get. Washington is a mammoth of a human being who uses his 6’7 frame to pancake linebackers and even defensive ends. Bowers has the speed of elite receivers with the body of a tight end. LSU will do everything they can to take away big plays from these two first rounders. 

Some teams have had success limiting touches to Georgia’s tight ends because UGA lacks a real threat at receiver. No longer. AD Mitchell is back this week. He’s been out since the South Carolina game, but Mitchell finally returns from an ankle injury.

While I’m doubtful Mitchell will get a full load of snaps, his presence opens things up for the tight ends and for leading receiver Ladd McConkey or speedster Arian Smith to make a big play. Smith is UGA’s favorite deep threat because he’s more of a track runner who happens to play football than a football player. Smith averages 31 yards per catch. He doesn’t make a ton of plays, but when he does it is explosive.

McConkey is shifty and versatile. He lacks size, so he isn’t the ideal choice on the outside, but is an effective slot receiver. 

Dawgs on Defense

Defensively, Georgia has stacked so much talent that their scoring defense isn’t much different from last year’s historically dominant team despite losing so many to the NFL.

The secondary is led by senior safety Chris Smith, who seems to make a big play in the biggest games. He had the pick 6 against Clemson last year and had a key interception in opener against Oregon this year. Alongside him, freshman Malaki Starks is an athletic freak. He played the most snaps of any UGA defensive player this season, which shows just how much Georgia trusts and needs him.

CB Kelee Ringo made headlines by getting the game-clinching pick 6 against Alabama in the natty last year. He is a solid corner with a boom/bust playmaking style. 

UGA’s front 4 has one name you need to know. Jalen Carter. Carter is a top 5 pick in the draft next year. #88 is the single most disruptive force on Georgia’s team, as he can stuff the run and get after the QB. UGA’s other linemen are good but not great.

Georgia’s Smael Mondon will likely be the main player tasked with keeping Jayden Daniels from scrambling for big gains. He is Georgia’s best and most athletic linebacker. UGA dearly misses OLB Nolan Smith, who would be crucial in setting the edge and containing Daniels. Look for the star QB to escape outside and make some plays as Georgia struggles to keep him contained.

Points of Attack

Georgia will look to wear down the undersized and over-used defensive linemen of the Tigers. LSU doesn’t rotate their defensive tackles, who have each played over 700 snaps this season.

That’s 200 more snaps than Georgia’s most used lineman for comparison. A&M ran all over them last week, and I won’t be surprised if Georgia looks to open up the game by testing the run with some play action shots before using the run game wear out the Tiger defense in the second half.

Also, Georgia has slowed down their offense in recent weeks. I expect them to go more up tempo against LSU, again to wear down the Tigers. 

Defensively, Georgia will look to contain Daniels. They want to pressure him, but mostly they want to make sure he can’t escape the pocket for big gains.

The Dawgs will look to make Daniels beat them with his arm, and they have plenty of reason to think that won’t happen. T

he Dawgs will probably try to fool Daniels into throwing into coverage as well. If Daniels is hampered by his ankle injury, Georgia’s defense will feast. Even if Georgia gets out to an early lead, they can’t let up defensively. LSU has clawed their way back into games with they have been down. 

LSU will want to limit Georgia’s team speed by making them second-guess their assignments. Daniels will do RPO’s and read options to make sure Georgia is always on their man.

If LSU goes deep, it likely will be on play-action passes. Daniels is going to have to make more plays through the air than he is used to, while not giving up his scrambling. I think offensively, LSU pulls out every trick in the book in this game.

Whatever bowl they go to will be insignificant compared to Saturday. Trick plays and deep balls will keep Georgia’s defense hesitant, if they go that route. However, LSU doesn’t have an explosive offense. They tend to be more methodical, which actually works in their favor. They may be able to keep the ball out of the hands of Georgia’s offense, which is the most effective way to win against the Dawgs.


Both teams have been a little all over the map in their performances this season with impressive wins and puzzling performances.

LSU has enough talent to upset the Dawgs, and will surely leave everything out on the field on this game. Georgia is vulnerable in certain areas, and while they are one of the few unbeaten teams in the nation they certainly can be beat. Plus, Kirby Smart has one game each year where his team doesn’t show up and they get beat soundly.

However, this season, Georgia’s best performances have come in their biggest games. Even when they haven’t been at their best, they have found ways to win. I’m going to assume that Jayden Daniels will be full go for LSU. Even then, it won’t be enough.

Brian’s Prediction

Georgia 31 - LSU 20

If Daniels isn't healthy, Dawgs cover


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