The Kickoff: Georgia-LSU should be a thriller

BY Peter Schrager • October 1, 2009

The battle of the game (season?) savers

Both Georgia and LSU escaped potential season-ending scares against unranked opponents last weekend. There's a chance neither team would have been so fortunate had it not been for the outstanding individual efforts from two star players.

Since Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones entered the world of SEC football last fall, the two receivers have consistently been pitted against each other by SEC fans in pre-game tailgate chatter, sports bar arguments and post-church Sunday conversations. Like the Stones vs. the Beatles or Cox (Courteney, not Joe) vs. Aniston, Jones and Green have been neck and neck in some hypothetical competition that the guys at EveryDayShouldBeSaturday describe as an "imaginary duel for most talented wide-out in the SEC" since Day 1.

After his all-around Superman effort on Saturday, Green may have taken the lead in the "war of the wide-outs." As a receiver, the Georgia sophomore was as brilliant as always. Green's eight receptions for 153 yards accounted for nearly half of the Bulldogs' yards in their 20-17 win over Arizona State. But Green's biggest play came on special teams and not on a kick or punt return. Lined up on the defensive line late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 17, it was the 6-foot-4 Green who blocked ASU's 38-yard, game-winning field-goal attempt.

Minutes later, Georgia quarterback Joe Cox connected with Green for 36 yards on third-and-six to set up the eventual game-winning field goal by Blair Walsh. The Bulldogs are now 3-1, having won three wild ones in a row. Despite warts and flaws in spots all over the field through four games, the 'Dawgs are now right back in the thick of things in both the SEC and BCS hunt heading into October. Green's the leading reason why.

Lining up against the sophomore on Saturday will be another season saver, LSU safety Chad Jones. If Green played a large role in Georgia's win last Saturday, Jones might have played an even larger one in LSU's near disaster in Starkville. The junior's 93-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Tigers a 30-21 lead early in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State. Minutes later, on a third-and-the-season situation from the LSU goal line with the Tigers leading 30-26, it was Jones who made the Olajuwon-style swat of Tyson Lee's play-action pass attempt. On the very next play, it was Jones who stuffed Lee's 4th-and-goal quarterback sneak attempt.

Forget A.J. Green vs. Julio Jones on Saturday. It'll be Green vs. another Jones in a battle of two season savers. LSU has been one of those teams so many pundits have labeled "fraudulent" this week, unable to inspire the masses with their tight wins over Mississippi State and Washington. I think they're just fine. The 'Dawgs, on the other hand, have been in one maniacal finish after another. Some would say they're fortunate to be above .500.

My pick? Gimme the 'Dawgs between the hedges in another close one.

A.J. Green, obviously, plays a major role.

Georgia 31, LSU 27

The other devastating quarterback injury of the weekend

share story