By Ed Daniels, Clarion Herald Sports
For LSU, the Georgia Bulldogs have always been a litmus test.
Earlier this season, LSU coach Ed Orgeron was asked when the Tigers became quarterback Joe Burrow’s team?
“The Georgia game,” said Orgeron.
In October 2018, Burrow led LSU to a 36-16 win over the Bulldogs. It was Georgia’s only loss in an 11-win regular season.
The Bulldogs, after a 35-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, were left out of the College Football Playoff. Georgia accepted a Sugar Bowl bid and was then upset by the University of Texas.
Twenty years ago, LSU, fresh off a 41-7 trouncing at home at the hands of Auburn, went to Athens, Georgia, and fell short of a huge upset, falling, 23-22. Gerry DiNardo would lose his last eight games as LSU head coach.
Four years later, the Bulldogs were a measuring stick again for the Tigers. On a steamy September afternoon, Matt Mauck scrambled left and found receiver Skyler Green for the game-winning TD in a 17-10 victory. It was one of the most memorable plays in the history of Tiger Stadium.
Later that season, LSU validated its spot in the BCS Championship Game with a 34-13 drubbing of the Dogs in the SEC Championship Game.
On the field after the game, many an LSU player said they felt disrespected after that September win. So, in the rematch, they used that emotion to fuel a rout.
One year later, a 45-16 LSU loss at Georgia was the Tigers’ second that season. There would be no return to the SEC Championship Game.
In 2011, in the SEC Championship Game, Tyrann Mathieu would return a punt for a touchdown in an LSU rout of the Bulldogs. Mathieu also set up TDs with a fumble recovery and another punt return as LSU scored the last 42 points in a 42-10 win over the Dogs.
Mathieu’s performance sent him to New York as one of the five finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
Two years later, 274 combined receiving yards from future NFL stars Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. and 41 points were not good enough for victory in Athens. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw four TD passes, including the game winner with less than two minutes to play, in a 44-41 Georgia win.
Throughout LSU’s stunning offensive transformation and march to the SEC Championship Game, players have been reluctant to celebrate. The Golden Boot, the trophy that goes to the winner of the LSU-Arkansas game, sat untouched behind the north end zone as the team headed to the dressing room after a 56-20 victory.
“Bigger goals,” said many of the players.
But, an SEC championship would be cause for celebration. Since 1970, LSU has won seven league titles. And, once again, Georgia stands in their way.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.