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Georgia vs. LSU SEC Championship Pick with Analysis

12/3/11

The marquee college football game of the week is the SEC Title game between #1 LSU and #12 Georgia. The first two offshore sportsbooks to post lines each week for college football are 5 Dimes and Betonline. Both books opened up LSU -10 and the early LSU money has pushed the line to -13 at most shops, a move we agree with. The posted total is currently 45 as of Monday morning.

Currently, LSU and Alabama hold the top two BCS spots and will likely meet in a rematch for the National Championship. Even if LSU were to lose here, they would likely still get that title shot, unless they were blown of the field by the Bulldogs. Certainly, nothing is out of the question. Remember 2007, when all West Virginia needed to do was beat unranked Pitt to earn a shot at playing for the title? Yep, they lost. It's safe to say Georgia presents a bigger obstacle to LSU than Pitt did to WVA.

Georgia is a damn good football team lead by a damn good coach. College football observers, us included, were suggesting Mark Richt could be in trouble after starting the year 0-2 and giving up 35 points to Boise State and 45 points to South Carolina. Richt and the Bulldogs responded by winning 10 straight with the defense giving up more than 20 points just once (28) the rest of the way. Most teams were held to 13 points or less. It would be foolish to think Georgia couldn't pull the upset.

But thinking Georgia can pull the upset and handicapping Georgia to pull the upset are two very different things. Georgia is a hot team. A good team. Have won 10 straight, etc, but the numbers suggest LSU is simply the better team on both sides of the ball in just about every category. Georgia is on par with Arkansas state-wise. Look what happened to the Razorbacks.

Both teams are 5-0 against common opponents. However, LSU blew through those 5 common opponents. Not one close game. The smallest margin was 4 touchdowns. Georgia has wins by 4, 8 and 9 against 3 of those 5, with two blowouts. Good, but not as good as LSU.

If we look as season to date yards per point numbers we find LSU with a sizzling 10 on offense and a tremendous 22.5 on defense for a +12.5 overall. Georgia weighs in with a modest 12.4 and 15 or +2.5. A 10 point edge for LSU before factoring in a schedule roughly 6 points more difficult. Let's face it, Georgia's schedule can't compare to LSU's. LSU played Oregon, Alabama and Arkansas. Eight top 25 teams in all. Georgia played 4 top 25 teams, and lost 2.

We ran our model with season to date numbers as well as using only common opponents. The results were the same. Season to date predicted a 28-13 LSU win while common opponents predicted a 21-7 LSU win.

We love underdogs in big games. This is the biggest game Georgia will play all year. For LSU, one might argue that the real SEC title game will come when Alabama and LSU square off for the National title. But if we were to back Georgia here, we'd be doing so based on a wing and a prayer.

Our handicapping puts this game right around the current line, hence no edge either way. Sure, it wouldn't surprise us to see Georgia cover this game, but we suspect it will play out like many Super Bowls have played out over the years. Basically, the way the LSU/Arkansas game played out. The better team wearing down it's opponent over the course of 60 minutes and winning by a large margin when the smoke clears. LSU -13

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