The two best-rated passers in the SEC collide when Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs welcome Zach Mettenberger and No. 6 LSU to Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Murray and the No. 9 Bulldogs (2-1) are on the final leg of their early season gauntlet, facing their third ranked team of the season, and a victory could put them back on track for national-title contention.
The 4-0 Tigers can hand Georgia its second loss of the season, all but stamping out any chance for a championship run, while upping their chances of a 12th SEC title and first since 2011.
With a 201.8 passer rating, Murray has done his part to keep the Bulldogs in contention. They rattled off three straight victories after the disappointing season opener to Clemson, including last week’s 45-21 blowout of North Texas.
Murray threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Todd Gurley had 91 yards and another score on the ground. Freshman receiver Reggie Davis also made his first two career receptions, totaling 134 yards and a touchdown.
Murray’s second interception of the season came in the first quarter, but Georgia reached pay dirt on its next three possessions. The Bulldogs then outscored Mean Green 24-7 in the second half.
LSU is coming off its own dominating performance, after running back Jeremy Hill notched 184 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over Auburn. Mettenberg tossed his first interception of the year, but finished with 229 yards and a touchdown. After four games Mettenberg is second in the SEC in passing touchdowns, and is well on pace to shatter his previous career-highs in passing yards, completion percentage, and touchdowns.
The Tigers did suffer two key injuries against Auburn, but received good news this week. Right guard Trai Turner suffered a bruised ankle, but will reportedly play on Saturday. With his offensive line intact, Hill should be just as effective against a Bulldog defense allowing 143 rushing yards a game.
LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson should also play, overcoming a left leg injury and helping a Tiger frontline that concedes 19.5 points a game, 37th in the country.
The Tigers have won the last two meetings, the most recent a 42-10 regular season finale blowout in 2011. Georgia held an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but then-sophomore Murray was picked off twice and LSU clocked 207 rushing yards for 35 second half points and the win.
The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon.
Betting Odds: Georgia is favored by 3 points
Over/Under: 62 points
Early Prediction: LSU 30, Georgia 24