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LSU vs. Georgia prediction: Defenses should dominate SEC championship game

Bet on a low-scoring result when the Tigers and Bulldogs clash in Atlanta on Saturday

Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Zion Logue is part of a unit that allows just 11.3 points per game, fewest in the country. Logue and the defending national championship Bulldogs meet LSU in Saturday's SEC championship game in Atlanta. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Zion Logue is part of a unit that allows just 11.3 points per game, fewest in the country. Logue and the defending national championship Bulldogs meet LSU in Saturday's SEC championship game in Atlanta. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)Read moreTodd Kirkland / Getty Images

If you’re looking for drama on Conference Championship Saturday, you probably shouldn’t look to Atlanta, site of the SEC title game.

A matchup that has been set in stone since before mid-November lost a lot of luster last week when LSU fell flat in a must-win game at Texas A&M.

As a result, the Tigers (9-3, 7-5 ATS) went from having a chance to become the first two-loss squad to reach the College Football Playoff to likely needing to upset Georgia in the SEC Championship game just to earn a New Year’s Six bowl berth.

Meanwhile, the top-ranked Bulldogs (12-0, 6-6 ATS) will saunter into Mercedes-Benz Stadium knowing that no matter what happens against LSU, they will get to defend their 2021-22 national championship.

Oddsmakers and bettors are confident Georgia will earn that College Football Playoff berth — and a No. 1 seed — with a convincing victory over the Tigers on Saturday. But do the Bulldogs have a ton of motivation to crush LSU, especially with more important things on the horizon? At the same time, can the Tigers be trusted to bring their A-game after the debacle at Texas A&M?

Indeed, this is a difficult point spread to handicap. Which is why we’re eyeing the total.

Note: Odds updated as of 1:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 2.

LSU vs. Georgia Prediction: Pick

  1. Under 52.5 points (at BetMGM)

LSU vs. Georgia Prediction: Analysis

There’s really not much to say about Georgia’s defense that hasn’t been said ad nauseum. The Bulldogs’ stop unit has been the best in the nation by a mile for two years running.

So we’ll just mention a few (astounding) facts in the points-allowed department:

  1. Only Kent State (22), Missouri (22) and Florida (20) scored as many as 20 points against Georgia this season

  2. Of the nine other opponents this year’s Bulldogs have faced, eight scored 14 points or fewer and five tallied a touchdown or less

  3. In 27 games since the start of last season, only Kent State, Missouri, Florida and Alabama (41-24 win in last year’s SEC title game) have cracked 20 points against the Dawgs

Now keep in mind that eight defensive players from last year’s squad were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft — including a record five in the first round.

So, yeah, we’re not expecting LSU to find the end zone frequently Saturday — especially if star quarterback Jayden Daniels (foot injury) can’t go or is limited.

» READ MORE: Kansas State vs. TCU prediction: Look for Horned Frogs to stay unbeaten

As it stands, the Tigers have had just one explosive game against a quality defense this season. They scored 32 points in a victory against Alabama (but eight of those points came in overtime).

LSU’s offensive lows this season: 23 points (Florida State and Texas A&M), 21 (Auburn), and 13 (Tennessee and Arkansas).

Those teams, respectively, rank 17th, 26th, 98th, 46th (tied) and 90th in scoring defense. Georgia, of course, is No. 1 (yielding 11.3 ppg).

So the real question is this: Can the Tigers’ defense hold Georgia in check and keep this a low-scoring game? It depends on which stop unit shows up.

LSU held its first five opponents — Florida State, Southern, Mississippi State, New Mexico and Auburn — to an average of 14.8 points. And only Florida State scored more than 17.

» READ MORE: Purdue vs. Michigan prediction: Take the big points in Big Ten title tilt

The Tigers’ D also stymied Ole Miss (20 points), Arkansas (10) and UAB (10). However, it got torched by Tennessee (40), Florida (35), Alabama (31, but only 24 in regulation) and Texas A&M (38).

The most concerning is the latter. Because prior to facing LSU, Texas A&M — which did score one TD on a fumble recovery last week — had topped 24 points just twice all season.

That said, Georgia’s offense, which certainly has plenty of playmakers, has been a bit feast or famine. The Bulldogs scored just 16 points against Kentucky two weeks ago, 27 against Tennessee on Nov. 5 and 26 in a comeback win at Missouri on Oct. 1.

Otherwise, Georgia put up at least 33 points in every game, including 42 or more six times.

Again, though, we point to motivation. Yes, the Bulldogs want to win the SEC title — particularly after getting trounced by Alabama last season. But they know they won’t need to put up 35-plus points to do so.

Coach Kirby Smart would be, uh, smart to play conservative and put his star players at risk for injuries. In fact, if the Dawgs are up big in the second half, expect to see a lot of reserves hit the field (on both sides of the ball).

Finally, there’s this quirk that’s worth noting: Georgia’s 37-14 victory over Georgia Tech last week snuck Over the 49-point total when the Yellow Jackets punched in a late fourth-quarter touchdown.

Well, the Over hasn’t hit in consecutive Georgia games all season. In fact, the Under is 7-4-1 for the Bulldogs this season (with the total alternating in the last eight games). And since October 2021, the Dawgs are 15-7-1 to the Under.

We expect that trend to continue, as Georgia’s defense does what it always does and LSU’s defense rebounds from last week’s poor showing at A&M. Grab the Under at BetMGM.

LSU vs. Georgia odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Point spread: LSU (+17.5) @ Georgia (-17.5)

  2. Moneyline: LSU (+625) @ Georgia (-1000)

  3. Total: 52.5 points

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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