The SEC Championship Game kicks off in 24 hours. In the first two installments of this special edition of Too Much Information, I have compared the conference schedules and examined the shared history of the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers. I now offer my final thoughts upon the matter, for whatever they might be worth, secure in the knowledge that most of what information follows comes from other sources, to which I have contributed mostly intuition. This posting is concise, because my point is simple:
Louisiana State is the best team in college football, period. The Bayou Bengals are No. 1 in the BlogPoll (and No. 1 on my BlogPoll ballot) and No. 1 in the SEC Power Poll (and No. 1 on my SEC Power Poll ballot). Everyone is picking against us and rooting against us, while we are left to point out that our defense is much improved, in part because Brandon Boykin returned for reasons that offer hope that sugar may fall from the sky in a way that would do the late Larry Munson proud.
If Georgia wins, the Bulldogs will have secured their 13th Southeastern Conference title, tying them with the Tennessee Volunteers for the second-most all-time, behind only the Alabama Crimson Tide. Speaking of the Tide, since an all-SEC title tilt appears virtually certain, regardless of tomorrow’s result in Atlanta, a Georgia victory in the Georgia Dome would confirm that the league is so dominant that the BCS National Championship Game served to settle second place in the conference.
By rights, LSU should win this one, perhaps convincingly. We could see a repeat of the 2003 SEC Championship Game; in fact, that probably is to be expected. A Bayou Bengal blowout of the Bulldogs would confirm that the Tigers are who we thought they were. Louisiana State plays first-rate football in all three phases for 60 minutes every single Saturday, and it would take Georgia’s best game---better, certainly, than the Tennessee game or the Florida game; better, even, than the Georgia Tech game; better, perhaps, than the Auburn game---to beat that.
The Bulldogs’ history against No. 1-ranked teams confirms that the odds are long. The Classic City Canines have faced the No. 1 team in the nation four previous times in their history---each time at a neutral site, incidentally---and have won only once. The three losses were by margins of 24, 40, and 24 points, respectively. Georgia isn’t supposed to win, but Georgia can win. Georgia must play its best game of the season, but, in 2002 and in 2005, the Red and Black did exactly that, playing their best game of the season in the SEC Championship Game.
The last time I walked out of the Georgia Dome, I thought this month would see Kirby Smart introduced in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall as Mark Richt’s successor. Well, I was wrong, and I should’ve known better. Last December, I predicted Georgia would win the Eastern Division championship in 2011, and I was right. Last January, I predicted Georgia would win the Southeastern Conference championship in 2011, too. I’m sticking with that prediction, because, as hailtogeorgia said in the roundtable podcast in October, if you’re going to risk being wrong, you might as well be wrong in support of your team.
The last time the ‘Dawgs were preparing to play in the Dome, I made a prediction. I think I got the score right; I just got the date wrong. It was a typographical error, really. I made more or less the same mistake George H.W. Bush made. I said September 3, but I meant December 3. Yeah, that’s all it was, just an accident of timing.
My Prediction: Georgia 27, Louisiana State 24.