No. 1 Georgia favored in SEC championship against No. 11 LSU

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) points at a defender during the first half of an NCAA...
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) points at a defender during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)(Michael Clubb | AP)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 8:35 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) - Defending national champion Georgia will look to protect its No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff and AP Top 25 in its matchup with No. 11 LSU in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Georgia also was No. 1 when it lost last season’s SEC title game to Alabama before beating the Crimson Tide in the national championship game.

The Bulldogs finished the regular season 12-0.

Georgia won its last SEC championship in 2017.

LSU is looking to rebound from a 38-23 loss to Texas A&M in its final regular-season game.

The Tigers are 3-1 against the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Georgia is looking to protect its No. 1 CFP ranking, which would give the Bulldogs a preferable home-state Peach Bowl location in Atlanta for their semifinal playoff game. The defending national champion could lose to LSU and still make the four-team playoff. LSU wants to rebound from a 38-23 loss to Texas A&M in its regular-season finale. The Tigers are trying to become the first team to win an SEC championship game after losing three or more regular-season games since 2001, when LSU was 9-3 before beating Tennessee for the conference title. With a No. 14 CFP ranking, LSU would become the first SEC champion to not make the playoff.

KEY MATCHUP

LSU WR Malik Nabers vs. Georgia secondary: Nabers, a sophomore, had seven catches, matching his career high, in back-to-back games to close the regular season. Nabers had 198 receiving yards in that span and leads the Tigers with 58 receptions for 726 yards and a touchdown. Georgia’s defense leads the nation with 11.33 points allowed per game. Defensive backs Kelee Ringo, Kamari Lassiter and Javon Bullard will lead the Bulldogs’ pass defense against Nabers.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LSU: QB Jayden Daniels leads the team with 2,566 passing yards and 824 rushing yards — the second-most for a FBS quarterback. He was wearing a walking boot early this week after suffering a sprained ankle late in last week’s loss to Texas A&M. If healthy, Daniels’ dual-threat skills as a passer and runner are a major concern for Georgia’s defense. Georgia’s goal is to keep Daniels contained to the pocket, but the junior also is dangerous as a passer while throwing only two interceptions. LSU coach Brian Kelly said Daniels’ injury is not a high ankle sprain.

Georgia: RB Kenny McIntosh had game-leading totals of 86 rushing yards and 91 receiving yards in last week’s 37-14 win over Georgia Tech. McIntosh is the leader of a balanced running attack that finished the regular season strong. The Bulldogs ran for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games to gain momentum for the postseason. McIntosh leads the Bulldogs with 654 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and is third with 35 receptions for 437 yards and a score.

FACTS AND FIGURES

LSU is 3-1 against Georgia in the SEC championship game, including a 37-10 win in 2019. ... LSU is 5-1 in SEC championship games, including a 34-14 loss to Georgia in 2005. Only Alabama (10) and Florida (seven) have won more SEC championship games. ... LSU is trying to secure its 17th 10-win season and its first since its 15-0 national championship season in 2019. ... Georgia is 3-6 in SEC championship games, including last year’s 41-24 loss to Alabama. The Bulldogs won the rematch in the national championship game. ... Georgia’s senior class improved to 46-5 with last week’s 37-14 win over Georgia Tech, setting a school record for wins by a class. ... QB Stetson Bennett is 26-3 as a starter. ... Georgia coach Kirby Smart was LSU’s defensive backs coach in 2004.