A top-10 matchup in the SEC takes center stage on Saturday afternoon, as No. 6 LSU tangles with No. 9 Georgia.
LSU brings a perfect 4-0 record into the clash, which includes a season- opening victory over No. 20 TCU (37-27), and most recently a 35-21 win over league rival Auburn last Saturday. The Tigers' other victories came against UAB (56-17) and Kent State (45-13).
This bout marks LSU's first true road game of the season, and the first of two straight the team will play away from Baton Rouge. The Tigers still have showdowns with Florida (Oct. 12 at home), Ole Miss (Oct. 19 in Oxford), Alabama (Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa) and Texas A&M (Nov. 23 at home) on the schedule.
LSU head coach Les Miles is happy with how his team has played thus far, but knows they need to get better in all phases as they look forward to the challenges ahead.
"We're pleased to a point, but we're not satisfied. We can play better, and we need to control these games. I see a lot of schools in this conference having difficult games. Frontward, we need to take care of our business and do that, and we'll be pretty good. We're undefeated and looking forward to the next one."
Georgia is 2-1 on the young season, having won two in a row after dropping its opener at Clemson (38-35). The Bulldogs took a break from the rigors of SEC play to host the Mean Green of North Texas last weekend, and the home team prevailed in a 45-21 final. UGA's other win was its biggest of the year so far as it knocked off division rival South Carolina at home, 41-30 on Sept. 7.
This game put the wraps on a three-game homestand for the 'Dawgs, who will play at Tennessee on Oct. 5, at Vanderbilt on Oct. 19 and in Jacksonville against Florida on Nov. 2 over the next several weeks. The team closes the regular season with three home games in its final four, the exception being a trip to Auburn on Nov. 16. Georgia has won its last 14 home games, which is the third-longest home winning streak in school history.
A win in this clash would give the Bulldogs two home victories over top-10 foes in the same season for the first time in program history.
Head coach Mark Richt spoke recently about just how difficult it will be to handle a dangerous LSU squad, particularly when the Tigers have the football.
"There's no doubt about it that they look great. They're not going to try to trick you. They'll just line up and maul you. That's their goal, and then they'll be able to create some matchups with great receivers and a quarterback who can sling it. They are very balanced in what they do."
LSU owns a 16-12-1 lead in the all-time series with Georgia, which includes victories in each of the last two meetings, the most recent of which being a 42-10 rout in the 2011 SEC Championship Game.
Despite poor weather conditions, Jeremy Hill ran for a career-high 184 yards and three TDs to help push LSU past Auburn last weekend. It was the most rushing yards by an LSU player since 2004, and Hill had amassed 152 yards in the first half alone. Hill was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
Zach Mettenberger had a solid outing, hitting 14-of-22 passes for 229 yards and a TD, although he did throw his first interception of the season. Jarvis Landry was high man in the receiving corps, logging seven catches for a career-best 118 yards and a TD.
LSU finished with 457 total yards, while Auburn tallied just 20 yards fewer. LSU was 5-of-13 on third-down conversion attempts, and the defense came up with three turnovers and got double-digit tackles from D.J. Welter (11), Lamin Barrow (11) and Kwon Alexander (10).
For the season, the Bayou Bengals are scoring 43.2 ppg while permitting 19.5 ppg, and their typical output comes in at 480.2 ypg while their average yield sits at 310.0 ypg -- that latter figure due in large part to impressive efforts against TCU (259 yards), UAB (296 yards) and Kent State (248 yards).
A total of 13 players have posted double figures in tackles, with Barrow leading the charge with his 22 stops. No one has more than 2.5 TFL, but Allen Jordan has a pair of sacks and Jalen Mills has two picks.
Aaron Murray set a new record for the longest offensive play in UGA history by hooking up with Reggie Davis for a 98-yard TD pass early in the second quarter. The scoring strike was the 100th of Murray's stellar career, and he finished 22-of-30 for 408 yards and three TDs, climbing to No. 3 all-time in the SEC for total offense (11,352 yards).
When the dust had settled, the Bulldogs had accumulated 641 yards of total offense, the fourth-best showing in school history. Todd Gurley paced the rushing attack with 91 yards and a TD on a workmanlike 20 carries. Murray and J.J. Green each had a rushing score, while Chris Conley caught a team-high five balls for 63 yards and a TD. Davis finished with 134 yards on only two grabs.
The Georgia defense stood tall against the Mean Green last week, allowing only seven net rushing yards, 245 yards in all, and only a single touchdown. North Texas scored its other two TDs on special teams. Ramik Wilson led the 'Dawgs with nine tackles, and he had two of the team's 10 TFL. Leonard Floyd had a pair of sacks.
The Bulldogs are putting up more than 40 ppg, while permitting almost 30 ppg. They have done a nice job running the football (213.3 ypg, nine TDs), but have really excelled on the arm of Murray (.720, 346.7 ypg, seven TDs, two INTs). Gurley has amassed 377 yards and four scores to this point, while no player has more than 10 catches or two TD receptions. In all, 11 different guys have at least two grabs.
The Georgia defense is led by Wilson and his 31 stops, although Amarlo Herrera is hot on his heels with 30. Jordan Jenkins has four of the team's 20 TFL, but forcing turnovers has been a real issue with only three to this point (two FR, one INT).