No. 6 LSU visits No. 9 Georgia on Saturday in what is the biggest game of college football's Week 5 slate. Each team has national championship aspirations, and this is a critical game for both teams moving towards Atlanta. Les Miles and Mark Richt are two of the winningest active SEC coaches, and this weekend their paths will cross in a big way.
Here are the 10 stats you need to know about the matchup:
2-2: Les Miles and Mark Richt head-to-head record
Miles and Richt have faced each other just four times in their esteemed careers, all four of which coming in the SEC. The two have met twice in the regular season with Richt winning a shootout 52-38 in Baton Rouge in 2008 and LSU returning the favor 20-13 in Athens in '09. The other two meetings took place in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game. Richt and the Dawgs won the 2005 SEC title with ease 34-14 while Miles’ Tigers dominated 42-10 to win the conference title in '11. This is clearly a rubber match of sorts for these two quality coaches.
9-7: Les Miles' record against the SEC East
Miles is 48-17 all-time in SEC play, including the win over Auburn last weekend. Seven of those 17 losses have come against the SEC East. Under Miles, LSU is 4-4 against the Florida Gators, split with Kentucky and Georgia (1-1), beat South Carolina once and is 2-1 against the Tennessee Volunteers. On top of his 9-7 record with the East in the regular season, Miles is 2-1 in SEC Championship Games against the East (2005, '07, '11).
16-12-1: LSU’s all-time series lead over Georgia
LSU leads the all-time series with Georgia, winning 16 times to the Bulldogs 12 with one 13-13 tie in 1950. These two have played just six times in the regular season since the divisional split in 1992 with UGA winning four of those six. Strangely, these two played just twice (1978-79) between 1953 and 1986 — a void that will never happen again between two conference foes.
55th: Highest-rated offense LSU has faced this year
The LSU defense has always been salty under Miles and John Chavis’ leadership. The Tigers are ranked 24th nationally with 310.0 yards allowed per game at a tidy 4.6 yards per play. That said, Auburn’s 55th-ranked offense is the best unit the Bayou Bengals have faced in 2013. UAB currently ranks 69th in total offense, TCU is 94th and Kent State is 120th. It is safe to say that Aaron Murray and Georgia will easily be the toughest offense LSU has faced all season. More on that in a second…
7.8: Offensive yards per play by Georgia
The Dawgs are sixth in the nation — trailing only Texas A&M in the SEC — with 574 yards of offense per game. They rank seventh nationally at 7.8 yards per play this season after leading the nation in yards per play in 2012 (7.1 ypp). Georgia averaged 7.8 yards per play against Clemson (70 plays, 545 yards) and 7.1 yards per play against South Carolina (76 plays, 536 yards). Both of those would have led the nation a year ago.
7.5: Offensive yards per play by LSU
Georgia’s offense is outstanding but LSU’s unit has been nearly as effective through the first month of the season. LSU ranks just 33rd in total offense (480.3 ypg) but is nearly as efficient as the Bulldogs per play, averaging 7.5 yards per snap this fall. That is ninth nationally and well ahead of offensive teams like UCLA, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.
116.6: Zach Mettenberger's passer rating in conference play in 2012
The biggest turn around for LSU this season will be the development of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He was 84th nationally among all quarterbacks in conference play with a 116.6 rating last season. He was ahead of only Missouri’s James Franklin in SEC play with a 54.9-percent completion rate, 205.3 yards passing per game and just five touchdowns in eight SEC games. After four games (one SEC) under the tutelage of Cam Cameron, Mettenberger is sixth nationally in passing efficiency (193.6) with a 64.8 completion percentage and 256.5 yards per game. That said, his only interception of the season came last week against Auburn and he posted his lowest yardage total (229) of the year.
197.5: All-purpose yards per game by Odell Beckham Jr.
A big reason why Mettenberger and Cameron have been successful through the air has been the play of LSU’s wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr., in particular, has been dynamic for the Tigers by leading the SEC in all-purpose yards with nearly 200 yards per game. He has 389 receiving yards, 33 rushing yards, 78 punt return yards and 190 kick return yards with five total touchdowns in four games. Packaged with Jarvis Landry, who has 24 catches for 364 yards and six touchdowns, the Bayou Bengals may boast the best WR tandem in the SEC. No one else on the team has more than three catches.
242.7: Rushing yards per game for Todd Gurley and Jeremy Hill
Todd Gurley ranks first in the SEC and 11th nationally with 125.7 yards rushing per game. Jeremy Hill ranks third in the SEC and 18th nationally with 117.0 yards rushing per game. Even more impressive, Gurley is averaging a healthy 6.0 yards per carry while Hill is posting an astounding 8.4-yard clip. The duo might be the two of the most physically gifted runners in the nation and have combined for 11 total touchdowns in 2013.
39.2%: Georgia’s third-down conversion rate
For all of their offensive prowess and one big play to Justin Scott-Wesley, the Bulldogs have not been very good on third downs this fall. Georgia has converted just 16-of-41 attempts, ranking 76th nationally and 11th in the SEC — the 16 third-down conversions rank 96th nationally. LSU has been much better on the critical down, ranking 10th nationally with a 56.6-percent rate on third downs (26-of-46).