Five things to know about the Georgia Bulldogs ahead of the SEC Championship

LSU faces the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta on Saturday with the SEC Championship on the line.

The stakes are different than they were a week ago. Georgia is staring down another playoff berth while LSU’s loss to Texas A&M knocked the Tigers from playoff contention.

Ranked No. 5 just last week, LSU needs to win this game to even play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Georgia, the defending national champ, hasn’t lost since last year’s SEC title, where Bryce Young and the Crimson Tide got the best of the Bulldogs before losing the rematch.

LSU and Georgia last met in 2019’s SEC Championship. Joe Burrow led LSU to an emphatic win on the way to a national title. This will be the fifth time the two have met in this game.

Here are five things to know about the Georgia Bulldogs.

The defense is scary

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Defense has defined Kirby Smart’s tenure at Georgia. Year in and year out, the Bulldogs rank near the top in every defensive stat. This year, Georgia’s defense leads the nation in scoring defense and allows just 12.4 points per game.

The unit ranks top 10 in yards/play and third down conversion rate. It’s strong on the ground and through the air, sitting top 10 in EPA/play and EPA/pass.

Speaking about Georgia’s defense at the SEC coaches teleconference, Brian Kelly said, “The scheme is outstanding. They mix it up, three down and four down. They do a really good job when they get you into third down, they’re going to give you a variety of looks.” Kelly added he’s familiar with the structure having faced Kirby Smart’s program before.

The group is led by DL Jalen Carter, who might be the best defender in the SEC. Carter is a force up front, affecting the run and the pass.

Stetson Bennett is good

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In 2021, Stetson Bennett being a good quarterback wasn’t a consensus opinion. Bennett’s critics have been well-documented, as was the way he proved them wrong, leading Georgia to a national title.

Bennett returned as Georgia’s starter and remained efficient this fall.

“He just exudes confidence,” Brian Kelly said at his press conference this week, “He’s a guy that has mastered the position.”

Bennett’s 8.6 yards per attempt rank third in the SEC. Will Rogers, an air raid quarterback, was the only player in the conference to throw for more yards. Georgia has more than a game manager under center. The Bulldogs have a dynamic playmaker.

Georgia's playoff berth is all but official

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Even if Georgia loses, the Bulldogs are likely to remain in the top four and head to the playoff. Georgia sits 12-0, a record that includes a win against a Tennessee team ranked No. 1 at the time.

Georgia has now assumed the top spot in the poll and with it, a margin for error.

The Bulldogs are a championship-caliber team with championship experience. Georgia has only missed this game once since 2017. It’s a program accustomed to being here with a roster that understands how to handle these moments.

“I think that their team clearly has themselves in a mindset that this is where we should be, and we expect to be here and we expect to win,” Kelly said at his press conference.

Kelly compared playing Georgia to playing Alabama in the sense that both programs believe they’re going to win these games.

Georgia's offensive line is the best LSU's seen

LSU’s seen good offensive lines this year, but Georgia will be the toughest test yet. LSU’s relied on its defensive front a lot, whether it be [autotag]B.J. Ojulari[/autotag] and [autotag]Mekhi Wingo[/autotag] or bringing pressure with [autotag]Harold Perkins Jr.[/autotag]

The group has been one of the best in the SEC and if LSU wants a chance in this game, it’s going to need to find a way to deal with Georgia’s line.

The Bulldogs rank fourth in the country in sack percentage. Bennett is good at getting the ball out, but he’s also well-protected. The line is one of the best run blocking too and Georgia’s 5.6 yards per rush ranks third in the country.

Players to Know

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Outside of Stetson Bennett and Jalen Carter, here are some Bulldogs to keep an eye on.

TE Brock Bowers

One of the best tight ends in the game, Bowers is a bonafide star. Only two tight ends in the country have racked up more yards. Per PFF, only one tight end has made more contested catches.

Bowers’ combination of size and speed allows him to attack all areas of the field just as any elite receiver would.

DB Javon Bullard

Bullard will spend much of his time in the slot, where he’s one of the best in the SEC. He’s good in coverage and added three sacks rushing the passer.

LB Jamon Dumas-Johnson

Dumas-Johnson is a finalist for the Butkus award. Rushing the passer, he has 20 pressures and leads Georgia in tackles for loss.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire