OK, the title was a little edgy, but the LSU–Georgia game is going to be a one you don’t want to miss and will certainly keep you on the edge of your seats. LSU rolls into Athens for the first of several showdowns with Top 10 SEC teams. Overshadowing the national prominence of the game is the microscope that will be on senior Tiger signal caller Zach Mettenberger, who was dismissed from the Georgia team in 2010 after pleading guilty to sexual battery stemming from an alcohol-inspired spring break episode in a Georgia bar.
Mettenberger grew up 10 miles from the Athens campus, and his mom still works as an Administrative Assistant to head Bulldog coach Mark Richt. Sensing the potential caustic environment, Richt made a great preemptive move in giving Mettenberger’s mom the week off.
The LSU-Georgia games have never really had much vitriol over the years as both programs seem to have a healthy respect for one another and the games have almost always been competitive, hard-nosed and clean. The Mettenberger connection has certainly added another ingredient to the gumbo, and expect the fans from Athens to remind him he is the enemy this Saturday.
Prior to his exit, Mettenberger was engaged in a spirited battle for the quarterback position with current Dog signal caller, NFL prospect, and his former roommate, Aaron Murray, who inherited the position by default after Mettenberger was dismissed. Fate has again brought these two men together, and between the hedges Saturday, they will have one more competition (at least for now) to see who can gain the upper hand. Both field generals are rated among the top quarterbacks not only in the SEC, but in the country, and have NFL scouts intrigued if not enamored with both.
Murray has had a very successful run as the top dog at Georgia and pushed Alabama and Nick Saban to the brink last year in the SEC Title game in Atlanta before falling at the end. Mettenberger struggled mightily last season, but clearly had his best game against the Tide last year and dominated the vaunted Alabama defense for much of the game with pinpoint strikes and rope-like passes that not that many quarterbacks can successfully execute. Both teams pushed the talented Tide to the brink before letting the games slip away.
Georgia has only one loss coming to a very good Clemson team on the road. Recent history says that one-loss SEC teams can certainly get to the BCS title game, and the Dogs have already knocked off top-10 ranked South Carolina at home. If they can slide past the Tigers, they likely will earn a rematch with Alabama in the SEC Title game held in their backyard, Atlanta.
LSU has a much more daunting task as it still has home dates with Florida, Johnny Football and road tilts with Alabama and Ole Miss before the season winds down. Les Miles has a one game at a time approach, and with the artillery the Tigers are going to have thrown at them, they will without a doubt be possibly the most battle-hardened team in the country come December.
This game is billed as LSU-Georgia, but the games inside the games are the real story. Can Mettenberger exorcise his Bulldog demons once and for all and propel LSU a step closer to a national title, and at the same time end those same aspirations for his hometown Georgia Bulldogs? Can Cam Cameron continue his mastery in the play-calling department and keep the very talented Bulldog defense off balance? Will Murray be able to play at his highest level against a very athletic, albeit young and improving Tiger defensive unit? These questions and more will be answered between the hedges Saturday as two of the elite teams and programs in the country square off in what is sure to be can’t-miss television. Zach and Les indeed will make a promo piece Saturday and the winner of the bout will further their chances for BCS glory, while the loser will be left struggling for answers. This should be a classic SEC showdown.
Terry Waldrop was a longtime collegiate basketball coach and athletic director. Always having a passion for writing and shares his thoughts on college football and basketball in addition to a number of other sports related topics. Never shy of an opinion, follow him on Twitter @terrywaldrop, Facebook and Google, or just email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.