All good things must come to an end. LSU’s improbable 2022 SEC run ended Saturday night after suffering a 50-30 loss to No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game, but one thing is certain, this group showed fight until the clock hit zero.
The Bulldogs are and were a well-oiled machine. With Head Coach Kirby Smart at the helm, he had his unit prepared for battle, never rattled when the Tigers shifted the momentum their way.
Here’s our instant analysis from tonight’s matchup:
Turnovers Plague LSU’s Chances
The Tigers’ blocked field goal, resulting in a quick touchdown for the Bulldogs, set the tone for what was to come Saturday night. It wasn’t the block itself that got the attention of all watching, it was the lack of awareness from this LSU squad and it starts with coaching.
Special teams woes have been the thorn in the Tigers’ side all season, but the blocked field goal was the cherry on top. First it was the blocked field goal that cost LSU the chance to win against Florida State in the season opener. Now it’s a blocked field goal in the SEC title game that shifted all momentum. Some things never change.
The second critical turnover came as a result of a dropped Jack Bech pass. After Bech whiffed on a throw from Jayden Daniels, Georgia came up with the interception, wasting no time to capitalize off of the mistake after scoring on the very next play.
All in all, turnovers yet again halted any success this program was going to have, but this time it was on the biggest stage.
Hobbled Jayden Daniels
It was known Daniels came into Saturday night with a banged up ankle, but after a few sacks in the first quarter, his injury became that much more severe. A gritty player, Daniels fought through and finished the first half, but his night ended early.
LSU’s QB1 finished the night going 16-for-24 with 208 yards and a touchdown. Come the second half, it was the Garrett Nussmeier show. Opening the half with a gutsy touchdown drive, where Malik Nabers hauled in the 34-yard reception, momentum was shifting.
A turnover on downs on the next possession followed by an interception in the end zone stopped the bleeding by Georgia to catapult all the energy their way. Daniels and Nussmeier both showed fight, but it simply wasn’t enough against a dominant Bulldogs squad.
Georgia’s potent offense showed out in a big way against LSU. It was explosive play after explosive play for this group, getting everything they wanted both on the ground and through the air. Kendall Milton dissected the Tigers’ defense in a big way, totaling 113 yards on eight carries Saturday night.
Through the air, Stetson Bennett proved why he has the chance to be a two-time national champion before it’s all said and done. A masterful 23-for-29 passing with 274 yards and four touchdowns, his “game manager” style of play propelled the Bulldogs to another SEC title.
LSU’s defensive identity has been inconsistent in the run game all season long, giving up over 200 yards on the ground on numerous occasions. Saturday night against Georgia was the same story after the Bulldogs totaled 258 yards rushing.
It was a tough matchup for the Tigers, and as their improbable season inches towards the finish line, their constant grit and fight is what has catapulted them to a memorable year under Briam Kelly.