The flourishing of advanced statistical analysis in sports, and college football specifically, has given us a whole new way of understanding the game. But not everyone had the skill or inclination to break down advanced statistics. I’m more of a basic arithmetic man myself.
Fortunately for me this game is one which doesn’t require a lot of trigonometric jujitsu to understand. There are a handful of numbers you need to understand to predict this game, including the following:
1. The number of good ankles LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels currently has. Oh sure, Brian Kelly has spent this week enthusiastically proclaiming that Daniels didn’t suffer a high ankle sprain against Texas A&M and that he’s good to go against Georgia. But here’s the thing:
Jayden Daniels will still be in the walking boot today, Brian Kelly said. He has a minor test tomorrow to test the strength of his ankle before #LSU practices. Not much of an update yet.— Wilson Alexander (@whalexander_) November 28, 2022
There’s a world of difference between being able to play on a taped up ankle and being 100%. And while I don’t have any inside knowledge or significant medical training, I have sprained a few ankles, and even tried to play football on one. It’s not easy. And I didn’t have Jalen Carter chasing me. There’s a real chance Daniels isn’t going to be as mobile as he’d like, and that he’s at risk of tweeting that sucker again. There’s no way he goes from walking boot to tap dancing like Fred Astaire in five days.
174. The number of rushing attempts Daniels had on the season. That’s more Carrie’s than the Tigers’ top two running backs have combined. The Bayou Bengals return starting tailback Josh Williams, who missed the last two weeks with a knee injury. They also have excellent tailbacks Noah Cain and John Emery, two guys Georgia recruited hard. But Daniels is absolutely the straw that stirs the drink in this offense.
5, 6, and 7. Where LSU ranks in the SEC is nearly every conceivable statistical category. Total defense? 5th. Passing defense? 6th. Scoring defense? 5th. Passing offense? 6th. Total offense? 7th. In short, what Brian Kelly has built in one short season at LSU is one generally competent football team. Statistically they’re not great at anything. But until last week’s letdown against Texas A&M the Bayou Bengals had been good enough to beat pretty much anyone in the country.
1 and 7. Georgia’s position in the SEC in red zone scoring percentage (1st at 96.97%) and red zone touchdown percentage (7th at 65.15%). It’s a striking divergence, and one that’s grown in recent weeks. If Georgia starts fast and plays a clean football game, including getting six points instead of three inside the red zone, it feels like they could win by the full 17.5 points they’re getting from the oddsmakers (h/t DraftKings), or more. But if Jack Podlesny is scoring more than a point at a time, this one could get dicey. Until later…