LSU thumped No. 2 Georgia last year; this time, Tigers are favored — and Bulldogs remember

6 days ago The Advocate 0

The last time LSU played Georgia, the Tigers had just lost their first game of the season. They needed a win, and Georgia arrived in Baton Rouge with national championship aspirations as the No. 2 team in the country.

LSU thumped the Bulldogs 36-16 on Oct. 13, 2018.

“We were going into that game like, ‘Shoot, we’ve got to play Georgia this week,’ ” LSU quarterback Joe Burrow said. “It’s not the easiest task. We knew we had to win that game if we wanted to have a special season for the rest of the year.”

Burrow, who played one of his best games last year against Georgia, still uses a photo from when the crowd rushed the field after the game as his Twitter profile picture. The victory pushed LSU toward the Fiesta Bowl.

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Burrow thought the crowd was a pivotal part of that season-defining win, but when No. 2 LSU (12-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) faces No. 4 Georgia (11-1, 7-1) on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game, the teams will play at a neutral site, eliminating home-field advantage or perhaps even giving it to Georgia, whose campus is only 70 miles away.

“We’ll be playing in a different location,” Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm said. “I think that will help a little bit. I think our guys will be more focused and ready to roll this time around.”

The teams look much different than they did a year ago. LSU transitioned to a run-pass option offense that has scored 48.7 points per game. Georgia has relied on its defense, holding opponents to 10.4 points per game, while the offense has struggled to find rhythm.

Their styles are almost opposites of each other. Georgia wants to run the football behind a massive offensive line; LSU has smashed school passing records with five-receiver sets. Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari said Georgia has not faced a similar offense. But the Tigers have not faced a better defense.

Safety J.R. Reed, who has started three seasons and played in multiple championship games, does not feel intimidated by LSU’s record-setting offense. He said the Bulldogs must feel confident in order to win on Saturday.

“It’s not daunting at all,” Reed said. “It’s just another challenge that we’ve got to face.”

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This time, LSU will have to play inside a stadium familiar to the Bulldogs, who are aiming for their second conference title in three seasons. The Tigers think Georgia wants payback for last year.

“We’re kind of going into enemy territory,” Burrow said, “They’re going to want revenge on us, so we’re going to have to be on our game.”