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LSU Relishes Road Atmosphere in SEC Championship Game

Photo courtesy of LSU Football and LSUsports.net

LSU and Georgia renew their championship rivalry in a primetime showdown at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

LSU (12-0, 8-0) will look to capture the program’s first SEC title since 2011 when they face Georgia (11-1, 7-1) in the conference championship game on Saturday. Coincidentally, that title came against Georgia in a 42-10 rout.

In the last meeting between the two teams, LSU defeated Georgia 36-16 on Oct. 13, 2018.

“They’re well-coached. We beat them last year, so they have a little chip on their shoulder. Know what I’m saying?” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We’ve got to let last year go. Last year is different. We played them at home, we played them over there. Whole different time, whole different circumstance.”

This is the fourth time that LSU and Georgia will square off in the SEC Championship Game. LSU holds a 2-1 advantage with victories in 2003 and 2011. Georgia beat LSU in 2005.

This is Georgia’s third straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. Georgia defeated Auburn in 2017 and lost to Alabama last season.

The game is in Atlanta but Orgeron is certain Tigers fans will still make their presence felt. That being said, LSU will still carry the mentality of road warriors into the matchup.

“I know our fans are going to be there. I feel good about that. Everywhere we go, we’ve had great fans. But we will treat this as an away game,” Orgeron said. “We will have crowd noise on Tuesday, Wednesday. Be very well-prepared for all the Georgia fight songs they’ll play on our field all week.”

This will be an intriguing clash between LSU’s high-powered offense (48.7 points per game) and Georgia’s stingy defense (10.4 points per game).

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the projected favorite for the Heisman Trophy, has passed for 4,366 yards, 44 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Burrow’s favorite targets are Ja’Marr Chase (70 receptions, 1,457 yards, 17 touchdowns) and Justin Jefferson (81 receptions, 1,092 yards, 13 receptions). LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has rushed for 1,233 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Linebacker Jacob Phillips leads LSU in tackles (95). LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. has tallied four interceptions.

Anchored by linebackers Monty Rice (79 tackles), Tae Crowder (55 tackles), and Azeez Ojulari (30 tackles, 4.5 sacks), Georgia has given up only 14 touchdowns this season.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has passed for 2,385 yards, 21 touchdowns and three interceptions. Georgia running back D’Andre Swift has rushed for 1,203 yards and seven touchdowns.

Last week, LSU eased past Texas A&M 50-7 and Georgia handled Georgia Tech 52-7.

LSU is one of three undefeated teams (Ohio State, Clemson) heading into Championship Saturday. While LSU might be able to qualify for the College Football Playoff even if they lose to Georgia, Orgeron refused to contemplate the scenario.

“Not even thinking about it. Uh-huh. I’m not buying into that at all. We got to win. I don’t know if we’ve got to win to get in the playoffs or not. I’m not even talking about that. Our goal is to beat Georgia and win the SEC, then let’s see what happens,” Orgeron said. “Coming in to play, we’re not talking about that. We’re not even considering it right now.”

LSU sits in the driver’s seat for a spot in the CFP. The Tigers don’t take it lightly that they can determine their path with a victory against the Bulldogs.

“We control our own destiny. We’ve got to win every game to get to where we want to go. So far we’ve done that. The next step is beating Georgia, which is a mighty, mighty big task, as we know,” Orgeron said. “Now, whatever happens in this game, hopefully it’s a win. After the win, we’re going to look at where they tell us to go. Whatever it may be, we’re going to prepare for the next game. We will go after it. If there’s a next game, we’re going to prepare for the next one, we’ll go after it. That’s been our mindset the whole season.”