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Georgia at LSU

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The stakes are clear for Saturday’s SEC showdown between LSU and Georgia at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The winner controls its own destiny in the conference race and remains a player in the national-title picture.

On the other hand, the loser will have a tough road to Atlanta and is most likely eliminated from national-title contention.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened LSU (5-1 straight up, 2-3 against the spread) as a 1 ½-point favorite with a total of 46 ½. As of Friday evening, the Tigers were in the 1-2 range, while the total had been adjusted to 48 ½ at most books. Gamblers can back UGA on the money line for a plus 105 return (risk $100 to win $105).

LSU was in serious danger at halftime last Saturday night. After taking a 51-21 clubbing at Florida the previous week, the Tigers found themselves in a 17-10 hole at South Carolina in front of a raucous crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium.

But give credit to Les Miles and his staff. With its defense seemingly falling apart, allowing Stephen Garcia to move the Gamecocks up and down the field with his arm and scrambling ability, LSU buckled down in the second half. In fact, the Tigers limited Steve Spurrier’s offense to 42 total yards in the second half, minus-7 yards in the fourth quarter.

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Charles Scott bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out with 4:16 left for the game-winning score. Scott, who had 61 rushing yards, also had a five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Keiland Williams had his best game of the season, rushing for 72 yards on 15 carries.

Georgia (6-1 SU, 2-4 ATS) has been burning up the pockets of its backers recently, dropping three in a row ATS and four of its last five. The Dawgs are off a 24-14 home win over Vanderbilt as 14 ½-point favorites.

Mark Richt’s team dominated the game statistically, but it couldn’t put the Commodores away until Blair Walsh booted a 39-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining.

Georgia has been struggling to put teams away all year. UGA out-yarded Vandy 425-245, yet failed to cash tickets. The Dawgs out-yarded Tennessee 458-209, but they came up short versus the number.

Knowshon Moreno broke loose for a season-best performance against the ‘Dores, rushing for 172 yards and one TD. It was Moreno’s fourth 100-yard effort of the year. Matthew Stafford threw for 194 yards and a pair of TDs, but he was also intercepted twice. Freshman WR A.J. Green continued to turn heads with his stellar play, hauling in seven receptions for 132 yards and one TD.

Moreno will have a tougher time getting off against LSU, which has a stout defensive line led by All-American candidate Tyson Jackson. The Tigers limited South Carolina to 39 rushing yards on 31 attempts. They are fifth in the SEC in rush defense, giving up 96.7 yards per game.

LSU’s running game might have a tougher time producing than Moreno and his back-up Caleb King. UGA has the SEC’s premier run defense, surrendering just 61 yards per game.

Both offenses can put up points. Georgia is third in the SEC in scoring offense, averaging 31.7 points per game. LSU is fourth in the SEC, scoring 31.2 PPG.

LSU is undefeated in three home games this year, but the Tigers are 0-2 ATS at Death Valley. Georgia has won both of its road games, going 1-1 ATS. The Dawgs won 14-7 at South Carolina, but they failed to cover as 7 ½-point favorites. They did take the cash in a 27-10 win at Arizona St. as seven-point ‘chalk.’

These schools haven’t met since the 2005 SEC Championship Game when the Dawgs stroked LSU by a 34-14 count as one-point underdogs. During Richt’s eight-year tenure, Georgia has only played at LSU once, losing a 17-10 decision as a 1 ½-point underdog in 2003.

UGA owns a 7-2 spread record as a road underdog under Richt. On the flip side, LSU is an abysmal 8-14 ATS during Miles four years at the helm. Even worse, the Tigers are 0-4 ATS as single-digit home ‘chalk’ under Miles.

The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for LSU, 1-1 in its home games. As for the Dawgs, they have watched the ‘under’ go 4-2 overall, 2-0 in their road outings.

CBS will provide television coverage at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--LVSC has four oddsmakers for college football – Mike Seba, Kenny White, Scott Ramsey and Tony Sinisi. Each oddsmaker makes his own personal number and then White (LVSC’s Chief Operating Officer) basically meets in the middle and sends out the opening line. For UGA-LSU, White made the Dawgs three-point favorites with a total of 52. Ramsey made LSU a three-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 41 ½. Sinisi made the side a pick ‘em, while Seba went with LSU as a 3 ½-point ‘chalk.’

--My number: LSU -3, 44 ½.

--LSU leads the all-time series 14-11-1.

--Miles is 39-7 at LSU, while Richt is 78-20 at UGA.

--UGA is 23-5 in Stafford’s 28 starts at QB. He has a 36/28 career TD-INT ratio.

--LSU’s Charles Scott is fourth in the SEC in rushing with 631 yards and eight TDs. DE Tyson Jackson is second in the SEC in sacks with 4 ½ after getting to Garcia twice last week.

--Oklahoma St. is winless in eight games against the top-ranked team in the nation.

--Great stat from Marc Lawrence during Thursday's edition of the Power Hours: Miami has been a home favorite against an ACC foe six times under Randy Shannon. In those six games, the 'Canes are 1-5 SU, 0-6 ATS. Cry-ami is a short home 'chalk' today vs. Wake Forest, which is 18-9-1 ATS as a road 'dog during Jim Grobe's tenure.

--Click here for my Saturday pick pack and if you wish, here's my latest Top 30. Good luck with your bets!

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

  
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