Two touchdowns. That's what Vegas thinks. Absolutely fine. I think that should be line when we view what's lining up against each other Saturday. LSU is rolling, there's no doubt. They've dominated everyone they've come across this season, sans Alabama (who may have played a better game against them). To my LSU folks credit, they won the game, and there's no doubt they're one of the best two teams in the country. Unfortunately they are going to be punished by having to play the hungry Dawgs Saturday afternoon. They'll go up against a team that's won 10 straight and has gotten better on defense every week. They've played for their coaches life and contract extension, and come leaps and bounds from where they were the last time they entered the Dome. I'll admit, I might have said some choice words regarding Richt and the state of the program the last time I walked out of that stadium on the way back to Marta. Fortunately this is a different team compared to the one that played Boise. How we wouldn't kill for the chance to line up against the Broncos or Carolina again. We haven't put together many pretty wins, and our schedule certainly hasn't been daunting, but we've done what's been asked of us since mid-September which led to a birth in the Dome, our ultimate goal. While we can argue all day that we haven't faced a real opponent, we've made positive strides, and we'll get our crack to prove how far we've really come on Saturday.
I don't really have a lot of disdain for LSU. Everytime the Dawgs and Tigers get together its a great occasion. We don't get to play each other than much, and the fanbases while intense on any given day, I think actually have a great deal of respect for each other. This is due to my two trips to Athens by the Tigers, a trip to the Dome, a trip to Baton Rouge, and a neutral game I saw them play versus Auburn in the real Death Valley. I think they love that we don't play each other every year, and we love the fact they represent a unique regional segment of the SEC. They love to tailgate, party, and give their best for their team which holds a deep-rooted place in their souls, just like us. As I monitor the Rivals boards, LSU folks don't seem too concerned because they're going to New Orleans no matter the result, but bottom line is they have to line up against the Dawgs on Saturday. They'll face a hungry improved team. Two fanbases who try to emulate the regional pride that's associated with their respective teams will enter Atlanta for a chance at the title that only we in the SEC know what means. For those who think LSU won't care about the game, they're certainly mistaken. Ask an Oklahoma fan, or Texas fan, or PAC-10 fan what year their teams have won their conference titles in. They'll stumble through recollecting a mathematical gibberish laden concoction of what they've accomplished. We in the SEC know what the value of that ring and parallelogram shaped sign means. If you think LSU isn't hyped for the game, and putting a statement on their wondrous season, you're wrong. Keep in mind LSU hasn't had a national title in which their schedule has remained unscathed.
Let's talk about the game. I've harped on it all year, LSU is good, and they've got something I like to call the X-Factor. The "Fat Man" who's one of my best friends father's who emulates the pure passion for a team he's rooted for his whole life alerted me to something different. They call it swagger. It comes when a team believes they are going to do something to win the game no matter what. Let's revisit Auburn last year. Cam carried the swagger. They faced tough tests and challengers versus Miss State, Clemson, Kentucky, Carolina, Georgia, and ultimately Bama. Even though they faced a 24-0 deficit in Tuscaloosa they knew deep down there was something special about their team this given year. They knew no matter what, somehow, someway, they were going to win. It starts when your kicker taunts players as he rolls into the endzone against Florida fake. It continues when a dubbed Honey Badger makes plays that will live in YouTube infamy. It solidifies when you face a 14-0 deficit against Arkansas and you proceed to pummel them into the ground. Your toughest opponent creates a grind out it out game that comes down to field goals, and even though they reach the 1 yard line you do something to turn the tables. LSU has a great deal of "swagger", and they intend to continue this on Saturday.
How can UGA win? LSU leads the nation in turnover margin at +19 (28 for, 7 against) and they do a great job of converting these mistakes into points. Whether it be a fumble recovery for 6, a pick six, or a punt / kick return they have the ability to turn the game in 15 seconds. UGA has to win the turnover battle, and as I always harp on, win field position. While they've been lucky to let their skill on fluky plays convert points in their favor, not allowing them to have these chances will determine UGA's fate. The Dawgs can't turn the ball over. Period. Protect the ball, protect you're chance for the upset. Specialists like Drew Butler, Blair Walsh, and Brandon Boykin controlling the field position will be crucial in this game. This may not make sense. UGA's offense has to play better against LSU's defense than LSU's offense plays against UGA's defense. I really believe, sans Bama, LSU hasn't faced a defense like ours. Sure you have to score more points that the other team to win. UGA I think can control the Tigers offense, but the UGA offense must protect the ball and convert when opportunities arise. LSU is going to score 18-24 points, and UGA will have to best this number. The running game for the Dawgs will be an issue given Crowell's week but he can shut up all the naysayers with a 150 yd performance. His attitude may not be in the right place, but for God's sakes I hope his legs are. UGA, Walsh in particular will have to convert when presented. We've been a giant field goal kicking fiesta all year, and this will not suffice versus a team of this caliber.
I hope this trip to the Dome has a prettier result. LSU will try to jump out early and seize momentum, rest their players, and coast to New Orleans. The hope is the Dawgs are not just happy to be in the Dome, but look to capitalize on their opportunity. Jarvis Jones said it best, if we don't give them the freebies, we've got a definite shot. Let's solidify Richt's comeback, and by Richt I mean evil Richt. The guy that blacks out Auburn, that charges the field after Florida TDs, that punishes Tech, and goes for it on 4th and long time and time again versus Florida. Orson Charles will be a mismatch and must be utilized. Hopefully the running game can come into some sliver of existence. The turnover margin must be won by Georgia to dictate the pace of the game. Field position will be crucial. Let's make the mad-hatter Les Miles regret that he chose to get a little crazy. Its a chance no media outlet is giving us, but I hope I can walk out of the Georgia Dome with my head held high, proud of the effort the Dawgs put forth. Not just proud of effort, but proud of a victory. I'd love to blare "pour some sugar on me" out the top of a 4 Runner circa 2005 on my way out of Atlanta one more time.