Dating back to my days as the co-host of "The Dawg Show," I have prepared a weekly statistical breakdown of how the Red and Black match up with their next opponent. When I started doing this in 1999, this was actually somewhat novel, but, in the age of the blogosphere, I’m not offering anything you aren’t already getting from Senator Blutarsky or Doug Gillett.
Accordingly, I have started taking this segment back to its roots in local cable access television by shifting my focus somewhat from parsing the statistical minutiae in their entirety to looking at a few numerical oddities and a smattering of historic tidbits of which I’d be willing to bet you were unaware.
In so doing, as always, I make it my mission to give you not just a cupful of insight, or even a gallon of knowledge, but rather . . . Too Much Information!
I’ll tell you one thing for sure: I am not looking forward to facing this guy again! Oh, wait . . . he’s not there anymore? Whew! What a relief!
- Although the last three series meetings between the Bulldogs and the Bayou Bengals, including the 2003 and 2005 S.E.C. championship games, have been blowouts, Georgia and L.S.U. typically have played one another closely in recent years. Seven of the nine showdowns immediately preceding the 2003 meeting in the Georgia Dome were decided by margins of seven or fewer points. These two combatants are 5-5 against one another in their last ten series meetings and, historically, they are 6-6 against each other in games decided by a touchdown or less.
- The Classic City Canines remain models of consistency defensively. Georgia has given up 124 total points in 2008, of which 62 were surrendered in the first half and 62 were allowed after intermission. For all the celebrated ability to clamp down in the second half demonstrated in their game against South Carolina, the Pelican State Purple Cats have performed about the same in the last two quarters as they have in the first two periods: L.S.U. has conceded 129 points this autumn, of which the Tigers gave up 64 in the first half and 65 in the second half. Louisiana State has allowed the same number of points in the fourth stanza as in the second quarter (44).
- During the Mark Richt era, the ‘Dawgs have performed well against the S.E.C. West. Coach Richt’s Georgia clubs have gone 19-6 against the Western Division, with this season’s loss to Alabama snapping a seven-game winning streak over the other division. Under Coach Richt, the Red and Black have never finished the regular season with more than one loss to the West and no Mark Richt-coached Bulldog squad has ever lost back-to-back outings against Western Division teams.
The bad news is that he’s a much better coach than I gave him credit for being. The good news is that Georgia is 6-1 against defending national champions since 1965.
- Turnovers have been a major area of concern for the Bulldogs these last two weeks, but, for all the aspects of L.S.U.’s game that rightly strike fear into the hearts of the Georgia faithful, that ought not to be cause for consternation in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are -2 in turnover margin, placing them right behind the Red and Black in that category. The last couple of Saturdays have seen the ‘Dawgs going up against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, whose 14 and 13 interceptions, respectively, lead the league in picks. Louisiana State has intercepted four passes, tied for the fewest in the conference.
- There was a time when the Classic City Canines’ game against the Crimson Tide was a reliable indicator of their performance against the Fighting Tigers. Through 1945, Georgia was 0-3 against Louisiana State in seasons in which the Bulldogs also lost to Alabama. After 1946, however, that trend shifted dramatically, as Georgia teams that fell to the Red Elephants posted a 4-2-1 record against the Bayou Bengals.
- For all Georgia’s red zone woes, the Bulldogs still rank fourth in the S.E.C. in red zone offense and have scored a league-leading 18 touchdowns on trips inside the 20 yard line. Eleven of the Bulldogs’ red zone touchdowns---tied for first in the conference---have come on running plays. L.S.U. ranks last in the S.E.C. in red zone defense, having stopped an opposing team in the shadow of the Tigers’ own goalposts only once. Two-thirds of the red zone touchdowns the Bayou Bengals have allowed have come on running plays.
The Feel Good Stat of the Week: 2008 marks the eighth season overall, and the third of the Mark Richt era, in which the Bulldogs will face L.S.U. in an autumn in which the Red and Black leapt out to a 6-1 start. The first seven Georgia squads to do so (in 1935, 1948, 1978, 1998, 1999, 2003, and 2004) went 5-2 in regular season matchups with the Tigers.
That, by the way, includes a 3-1 record against Louisiana State in Baton Rouge . . . and Georgia squads that began the season by going 6-1 in the campaign’s first seven games are 3-0 over the Bayou Bengals in Death Valley in years ending in "8."
The Bottom Line: Because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, it is easy for us in Bulldog Nation to look at what ails the Red and Black while forgetting that the other side has troubles, too. L.S.U. is a physical, talented, disciplined, well-coached club that knows how to win big games, but the Fighting Tigers performed at least as poorly against Florida as the ‘Dawgs acquitted themselves against Alabama. Any team can beat any other team on any given day and you should not doubt a Mark Richt-coached team’s ability to win a big game on the road with everything on the line.
My Prediction: Georgia 23, Louisiana State 20.