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The "motivational" angle when handicapping a game can often be subjective. Saturday's SEC title game is a good example.
The undefeated LSU Tigers have all but sealed a College Football Playoff berth, win or lose the championship tilt. Does that make the one-loss Georgia Bulldogs - who would probably be in if they can add an SEC title to their resume - an intriguing side this weekend? Let's break down the game and find out.
LSU's seeing some -6.5s, -7s, and -7.5s around the marketplace, but numbers haven't been there for long once they've moved a half-point on either side of -7. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Tigers close as a touchdown-sized favorite, barring a late flurry of money.
The total here is more intriguing. We get LSU's No. 2 scoring offense against Georgia's No. 2 scoring defense. The Tigers have seen plenty of totals in the high 60s, while the Bulldogs haven't had a total close higher than 50 since mid-October. Oddsmakers split the difference and hung 56, which has since been bet down to 54.5.
The perception of Georgia has changed drastically since the start of the season. The Bulldogs were one of those teams bettors thought could upend the Alabamas and Clemsons of the country, and they're just one win away from likely getting into the playoff. Considering the team's offensive struggles and bland style of play, Georgia doesn't exactly feel like a sleeping giant. Still, the Bulldogs are quietly 4-1 against the spread over their last five, 8-1 ATS over the last nine on a neutral field, and on a 5-0 run ATS as an underdog under head coach Kirby Smart.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has the Tigers on a serious upward trend. He's covered 15 of the last 22 games in conference play and six of the last eight against teams with winning records.
Imagine telling someone in the summer that Georgia's Jake Fromm wouldn't be playing Alabama in the SEC title game, and he still wouldn't be the best quarterback on the field. LSU's Joe Burrow is a lock for the Heisman, and his Bulldogs counterpart will be tasked with scraping together enough magic to trade punches with one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
You hate to use the term "game manager," but that's exactly what Fromm's been at times. Burrow has more games with 400 yards passing (two) than Fromm has with 300 yards (none). Fromm's also completed worse than 50% of his passes in each of the last four games.
The receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired. Fromm's top option, Lawrence Cager, is out Saturday with an ankle injury, while George Pickens is suspended for the first half following a fight with a Georgia Tech player last weekend. The most productive option remaining on the roster doesn't have more than 300 yards receiving this year. Best of luck.
I think this game will follow a similar script to LSU's meeting with Auburn in Week 9. Both Auburn and Georgia run the ball on offense and play stout defense. The kicker? The Bulldogs allow 11 fewer points per game than Auburn, which held LSU to a season-low 23 points this season.
Georgia's awfully short-handed at receiver to win a shootout, so I'd expect Smart to slow this game down. I just can't envision a scenario where the Bulldogs put up enough points to get this game over the total of 54.5.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKoIodziej.