Georgia’s toughest test is here and most of its questions will be answered as it walks away Saturday evening from Tiger Stadium.
The Bulldogs are set to play 13th-ranked LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC) in a raucous atmosphere with a capacity over 100,000 — although a good number of Georgia fans have made the trip to Louisiana.
Georgia (6-0, 4-0 SEC) has played one ranked opponent at the season’s midway mark, but this begins a stretch of four consecutive games against ranked teams. LSU and Georgia face off for the first time since 2013.
As the worries about run defense, offensive consistency and youth continue to linger, they won’t for much longer.
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“Regardless of the record, there always seems to be these questions about Georgia,” defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter said. “We’ll be happy to answer them.”
Here are three things to know ahead of kickoff (3:30 p.m., CBS).
Burrow’s running ability
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s passing statistics aren’t eye-popping, but it’s his dual-threat abilities that may create some unique situations for Georgia.
It’s the last time the Bulldogs have faced a dual-threat quarterback since Tua Tagovailoa in last season’s national title game, and we all know how that went. This isn’t a comparison between Burrow and Tagovailoa to say they’re on the same level, but Burrow does have 176 rushing yards on 45 carries (including sacks) through six games.
Burrow works in coordination with running back Nick Brossette to create two running elements and run a sufficient offense. Burrow, an Ohio State transfer, also has 1,215 passing yards and six touchdowns.
“They do a good job of mixing up the run game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “That affects how you’re able to play the quarterback. So we’ll have to see what all they come with for this game.”
Attrition on the line
Georgia’s run defense could take a hit Saturday with the injuries of David Marshall, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle and Devonte Wyatt on the defensive line. After having a shaky first half last Saturday against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs finished strong with stopping Khari Blasingame in the second half.
Brossette and the Tigers, however, present a different challenge. Brossette emerged on the scene after sitting behind Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette in previous seasons, but has 576 yards and eight touchdowns.
Georgia says bring it on.
“This is my kind of football game,” Ledbetter said. “It’s tough and physical, and that’s what you love to see.”
Georgia will use Malik Herring and Jay Hayes to fill the probable absence of Marshall, and freshman Jordan Davis could see more time at nose tackle. Despite having to use depth, the players see it as a non-issue.
“That’s why you recruit like we do,” linebacker Monty Rice said.
Saturday’s game will feature two of the best cornerbacks in the SEC, which could make it tough for Burrow and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm at times.
Deandre Baker, rated the best cornerback nationally by Pro Football Focus, will suit up for the Bulldogs. LSU’s defense will counter with sophomore Andraez “Greedy” Williams, who has recorded two pass breakups and two interceptions.
“He kind of takes care of one side of the ball and shuts down a wideout each game,” Smart said. “He’s a talented guy. They’ve traditionally had really good secondary players.”
Despite a raucous atmosphere expected at Tiger Stadium which may cause deafening conditions for Fromm, Georgia is confident it can find success against Williams.
“You can say what you want to say, but as a receiving corps we’re going to go out there and be who we are,” Georgia receiver Terry Godwin said. “We’re going to go out there and try to make plays and make the blocks and be who we are.”