One of the big games in Week 5 of the college football season takes place this afternoon in Athens, Georgia as #9 Georgia hosts #6 LSU.
After the Bulldogs' opening week to Clemson, every game has been a must-win. Past this game, their schedule gets much easier. Georgia does not face a team currently in the Top 25 for a month before facing Florida on November 2. For LSU, this game starts the Tigers' SEC schedule, which includes the Gators in Baton Rouge on October 12.
Georgia is a good first exam for the LSU defense. Aaron Murray is averaging almost 350 yards in the air, and the Bulldogs gain 213 yards on the ground per game. The team as a whole scores 40 points a game, more than twice than the 19.5 points per game the Tigers have allowed.
The same is true if reversed, though. LSU is gaining 220 yards a game by rushing, and Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger trails Murray by 14 yards and 7.2% accuracy while throwing three more touchdowns and one less interception. The Tigers score 40 points each outing while Georgia's defense allows almost 30.
Georgia struggled on special teams last week, giving up touchdowns on a 99-yard kick return and a blocked punt in the Bulldogs' own end zone. LSU's Odell Beckham, Jr. returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown on September 9.
Both coaches know how big this game is. LSU coach Les Miles has had to remind players during the week that they were only practicing and that the game is Saturday. Georgia coach Mark Richt said both teams are very similar, from wanting to win badly, to style of play and the level of players' talent.
The SEC features another matchup of ranked teams, as #21 Ole Miss will be in Tuscaloosa to play #1 Alabama at 6:30 p.m. Some have put the Crimson Tide on upset alert, but coach Nick Saban is keeping the team focused.
“I think we can be a good team,” Saban said. “I think we can improve, I think we can play better and I think we need to make that progress if we're going to be the team we're capable of being.”
In Fayetteville, Johnny Football and the #10 Texas A&M Aggies play Arkansas, a team the Gators will host next week. The Aggies lost to Alabama two weeks ago in their first SEC game of the 2013 season, and the team hopes to get back on the path to Atlanta.
“Everything we try to do at Texas A&M has that goal in mind,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said.
Other SEC games feature #12 South Carolina against Central Florida in Orlando, Tennessee hosting South Alabama, Arkansas State at Missouri and UAB at Vanderbilt.