Sat. 10/13, 3:30 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Georgia-LSU:
1. He isn’t flashy and he won’t light up the stat sheet, but LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has proven to be more than capable for the Tigers this season. The junior transfer from Ohio State is a steady complement to the All-American talent in Baton Rouge. If those players do their part, Burrow will do his. Against Florida, Burrow threw two untimely interceptions—and was sacked five times on eight quarterback hurries—but that was an exception to the Tigers’ largely mistake-free play over their first five games, which came against quality opposition. The Tigers’ most difficult opponent, in some ways, has been injury, which has resulted in six OL combinations though six games. But with left guard Adrian Magee now back for a third straight game, the unit will remain largely intact from last week, and a greater sense of continuity should begin to develop.
The defining play of Burrow’s season was his game-winning drive at home against Auburn, which included a fourth-down conversion. Burrow’s poise in that situation should give Tigers backers confidence, even after the team’s heartbreaking loss to Florida. If the O-line can gel, it will give Burrow the protection he needs to make plays.
2. While LSU has been tested from the opening gun, with wins over Miami and Auburn in its first three weeks, Georgia is only just beginning the most difficult part of its schedule. The Bulldogs’ conference wins have all been comfortable, but South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt are the SEC East’s bottom-feeders—a combined 2-8 in conference, with both wins coming against each other. If Georgia is the national title contender it is purported to be, it needs to prove itself in a challenging setting, and it doesn’t get more hostile than Death Valley.
Jake Fromm has been outstanding at home and in neutral-site games, but as a road favorite during his tenure, Georgia is just 3-2 against the spread. Meanwhile, LSU is 6-2 ATS at home under Ed Orgeron. Finally, as a home underdog of seven points or more, LSU is 5-2-2 ATS since November 1999.
3. Georgia’s turnaround under head coach Kirby Smart has been well documented. But Orgeron is the Rodney Dangerfield of college football, seemingly unable to convince doubters that he’s the right man for the job. All Orgeron has done is steady a sinking ship after the 2016 midseason ouster of Les Miles; play national champion Alabama to one of its most competitive games last season in Tuscaloosa; and exceeded expectations already in 2018. Orgeron is LSU, and it’s clear that his players have bought into his approach. To be saddled as a 7.5-point underdog at home will only add to the Tigers’ motivation.
“Every LSU coach has had his game,” former LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said. “Nick had Georgia in 2003. Les had Florida in 2007. This Georgia game could be it for Ed.”
While an LSU win will be a tall task against a Georgia program that is beginning to draw comparisons to Alabama, a cover shouldn’t be as hard to come by.
Pick: LSU +7.5
Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)