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Breaking Down LSU At Georgia: Key Matchups

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The matchup between Zach Mettenberger and the Georgia defense may dictate who wins Saturday's game. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.
The matchup between Zach Mettenberger and the Georgia defense may dictate who wins Saturday's game. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.

For the third time in four games, the Georgia Bulldogs will be facing a Top-10 opponent, this time in the form of the LSU Tigers.

Georgia comes in at 2-1 and ranked No. 9 in the polls, while LSU comes in at No. 6 and undefeated.

While the matchup likely won't determine which team will represent their respective division in the SEC Championship Game, it will go a long way in helping determine the national-title picture.

So, who has the advantage?

Here's how the stats compare:

LSU Georgia
Points For 43.3 40.3
Points Against 19.5 29.7
Passing Yards 259.3 360.7
Rushing Yards 220.8 213.3
Passing Yards Allowed 173.8 245.3
Rushing Yards Allowed 136.3 143.3

When looking at the numbers, it seems LSU has the advantage in every area but passing yards per game. However, it must also be taken into account that Georgia has faced two other Top-10 teams in Clemson and South Carolina, while LSU's toughest opponent thus far has been TCU (1-2 on the year).

As Georgia's schedule lightens up with the likes of Tennessee, Missouri and Vanderbilt, those numbers should improve. LSU, on the other hand, still has Florida (as does Georgia), Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M. 

Here are the keys that all fans should pay attention to during Saturday's game:

Georgia Must Neutralize LSU's Special Teams

Georgia has struggled a little on special teams this year, giving up a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown. That's not even mentioning the botched field-goal attempt against Clemson that would have tied the game.

LSU, however, has a game-changer in Odell Beckham, who can take the ball to the house at any moment. Keeping the ball out of his hands, especially with nobody around, is going to be key all game long.

The punting game will be huge as well in determining field position. Georgia's Collin Barber is averaging 40.7 yards per punt, while James Keehn is averaging 38.9 yards per punt.

Which Defense Will Make Big Stop Late?

It's obvious both teams are going to put up a lot of points. Georgia will move the ball on offense mainly because of the experience of Aaron Murray and his receivers, and the talent possessed by the duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. LSU will move the ball because of the inexperience of Georgia's defense.

Zach Mettenberger isn't a great quarterback in the SEC, but he has shown a competitive fire that has sparked the Tigers. Jeremy Hill can run the ball down anyone's throat and Beckham can create problems at receiver.

One defense will get a stop at a key time. Georgia got a key stop on the goal line against South Carolina, which helped it win the game. 

We don't know how good LSU's defense really is because it hasn't played the kind of competition the Bulldogs have. Regardless, whichever defense can manage to get that one key stop in the second half, their team will win.

Difference-Makers

For Georgia, we all know what Murray and Gurley can do. The real key for the Bulldogs is shaking off the big plays. They're going to happen, but it's how the young defense reacts after those plays that will tell the story.

The Bulldogs also have to get pressure into the LSU backfield. If they can frustrate Mettenberger and his running backs early in the game, there's no telling what LSU might be forced to do in response.

For LSU, Mettenberger is the key. The atmosphere will be intense and he's returning to a place where he started his college career. How he handles himself will be the biggest key in determining if the Tigers will come out on top.

Prediction: Georgia 42, LSU 34