Georgia almost certainly is going to the College Football Playoff regardless of what happens in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Saturday in Atlanta.
LSU is not going to the CFP regardless of what happens in the SEC Championship Game.
Nonetheless, the No. 1 Bulldogs (12-0, 8-0 SEC), champions of the East Division, and the No. 14 Tigers (9-3, 6-2), champions of the West Division, both have a lot to gain by winning on Saturday — a significant trophy and momentum going into whatever their next destination is.
The situation is very similar to the one Georgia faced last season when it was undefeated and No. 1 as it faced Alabama. The Bulldogs figured to go to the CFP even if they lost. The Crimson Tide needed to win to get in, and they played like it, upsetting the Bulldogs 41-24.
However, Georgia shook off the loss and took care of business in the CFP, beating Michigan in the semifinals and winning a rematch with Alabama for the national championship.
“We’re worried about winning the SEC championship,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. “That’s the most important thing on our agenda. It’s tough to win an SEC championship. I’ve been part of this league for a long time. I have almost as many national championships as I do SEC championships.”
Georgia has not lost since last season’s SEC championship game. Only one of the Bulldogs’ games this season was decided by a touchdown or less — a 26-22 victory at Missouri on Oct. 1.
A victory on Saturday would give Georgia a chance to accomplish something even last year’s team didn’t — an undefeated national championship season.
“It’s not about last year’s team or a comparison,” Smart said. “It’s about that next step and having an opportunity to put a number on the wall that stays there forever. It’s an SEC championship. I think our players take a lot of pride in that.”
LSU, in its first season under former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, was in strong contention for a CFP berth before being upset by unranked Texas A&M 38-23 in its regular-season finale.
“We’ve had certainly some bumps in the road, but we’ve had some great achievements in developing our program here in the first year,” Kelly said. “Our football team has gotten better as the season has gone along.
“This is a great challenge, but one that we’re excited about. We want to be able to represent the SEC West and certainly play to our standard.”
The Tigers, who lost to Florida State in their season opener and to Tennessee on Oct. 1, didn’t play to their season-long standard against the Aggies. LSU’s John Emery Jr. ran for three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.
That loss dropped them nine spots in the CFP rankings Tuesday night, though they can still earn a substantial bowl berth by winning Saturday.
“This group has a lot of fight,” Kelly said. “That’s why they’ll go to Atlanta, and they will fight, and they will play hard for four quarters, and they will give everything they have against a very talented Georgia team.”
The Tigers will attempt to slow a Bulldogs passing attack led by quarterback Stetson Bennett (3,151 yards, 16 touchdowns, six interceptions).
–Field Level Media
Devon Achane returned from a two-game absence due to injury to rush for 215 yards and two touchdowns, and Texas A&M upset No. 5 LSU 38-23 on Saturday night in College Station, Texas.
Conner Weigman threw two touchdown passes and the Aggies (5-7, 2-6 SEC) never trailed while ending a six-game conference losing streak.
John Emery Jr. rushed for three touchdowns for the Tigers (9-3, 6-2), who saw their College Football Playoff chances end. They will face No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday.
After giving up 17 points on three possessions in the first half, the Tigers forced a three-and-out to start the second half.
LSU drove 71 yards on its first possession of the second half and scored on Emery’s 19-yard touchdown that tied the score at 17.
LSU’s next possession ended when Jayden Daniels fumbled and Demani Richardson picked the ball up and ran 27 yards for a touchdown that gave Texas A&M a 24-17 lead.
The score stayed that way until the first play of the fourth quarter when Weigman threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Moose Muhammad III. Achane, who finished with 38 carries, ran 10 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Moments later Emery ran 3 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring with 6:21 remaining.
Achane had an impact right away as the Aggies drove 90 yards in 15 plays on their first possession. He rushed nine times for 54 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run. Texas A&M held the ball for seven minutes, 37 seconds on the drive — its only of the period — and it held a 7-0 lead entering the second quarter.
On the second play of the second quarter, Emery ran 4 yards for a touchdown to tie the score.
The Aggies drove to the Tigers 7 before stalling and Randy Bond kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.
LSU tied the score on the ensuing possession when Damian Ramos kicked a 34-yard field goal with 5:38 left in the second quarter.
On third-and-goal, Weigman threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Green to give Texas A&M a 17-10 lead with 1:10 left before the half.
–Field Level Media
LSU has exceeded expectations as much as any team in the country.
Texas A&M has fallen as far short of expectations as any team in the country.
The two surprising teams will conclude the regular season against one another Saturday night in College Station, Texas.
The No. 5 Tigers (9-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) have more football ahead of them, facing No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship on Dec. 3, then moving on to a major bowl game or perhaps even the College Football Playoff.
The Aggies (4-7, 1-6) were No. 6 in the AP preseason poll after landing a historically high-ranked recruiting class but have lost their last six SEC games.
“This is as arguably as talented a football team as we’ll see all year,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “They’re young in some areas, but it doesn’t take away from the talent that they have on the field. … Certainly this is their game. Last one that they play this year again LSU, their rival, they’ll play their absolute best against us, and we’ll have to meet and exceed our play.”
The Tigers took the lead in the SEC West when they upset Alabama 32-31 in overtime on Nov. 5. They clinched the division a week later despite not playing their best in a 13-10 win at Arkansas. They bounced back with a strong performance in a 41-10 rout of UAB last Saturday.
“The UAB game might not have been as important to other people outside of the walls, but inside the walls that was a huge game for us. In terms of, you know, doing our job, the way the job needs to be done,” Kelly said. “The wins have been nice, the individual achievements have been really neat, the SEC West championship, but I’m most proud of the mental toughness that this group has shown.”
The Aggies nearly upset Alabama on the road before losing 24-20 on Oct. 8, but their only win since September was a lackluster 20-3 victory against Massachusetts last Saturday.
“Any time you’re not where you want to be you’re constantly looking, pushing, challenging, evaluating, changing, thinking,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It makes you evaluate everything you do.
“You can’t let circumstances dictate who you are. That doesn’t mean you’re content with them. But you can’t let it affect your process, whether you’re 11-0 or you’re having a season like we’re having right now. Hopefully it will make you stronger in the future, but it’s not fun when it’s going on, I promise you that.”
Defensive lineman Albert Regis said the team won’t approach its last game any differently than other games.
“Our mindset won’t change,” he said. “Unfortunately, yes, this is our last game. … We’ll have juice regardless because it’s a blessing to play this sport at this level. What’s not exciting about that? Why not have as much juice as you can?”
Fisher said he’s “very, very optimistic” that leading rusher Devon Achane and leading receiver Evan Stewart will be able to return from injuries and be available Saturday.
Their presence would be a boost to an offense that has struggled all season and hasn’t scored more than 28 points against an FBS opponent.
–Field Level Media
The LSU Tigers are in the driver’s seat to win the SEC West.
The Tigers (7-2, 5-1) moved up to No. 7 in the CFP rankings Tuesday night after a 32-31 overtime victory over Alabama last Saturday. That put them in position to win the West if they win their last two conference games.
First up is a game at Arkansas (5-4, 2-3) on Saturday. Coming off the upset victory against the Crimson Tide, LSU’s second in the past 12 meetings, the game against the inconsistent Razorbacks could be seen as “a trap game,” but Tigers coach Brian Kelly doesn’t see it that way.
“I’ve never bought into that because I think if it’s a trap game, you have not done a very good job with your football team,” Kelly said. “They know that Arkansas is an SEC opponent that beat them last year (16-13).
“It becomes a trap game if you’re not thinking right, and we’ll get our guys thinking the right way, and we’ll prepare the right way.”
LSU, which began the season unranked and was unranked as recently as three weeks ago, has won three straight, beating Florida and previously unbeaten Ole Miss before Alabama.
“We didn’t do anything different last week than we did for Ole Miss or we did for any of the other teams,” Kelly said.
The players understand the opportunity they have created for themselves, but Kelly said he won’t allow them to let it be a distraction.
“We’re not going to walk in with a PowerPoint on the SEC Championship race,” he said, “but it’s out there. They know what they’re going for.”
Arkansas rose to as high as No. 10 in the poll after winning its first three games, but that was followed by a three-game losing streak.
The Razorbacks bounced back to beat BYU and Auburn by a combined score of 93-62. But last week they lost at home to Liberty 21-19 as quarterback KJ Jefferson struggled while playing through a shoulder injury. He had the first multi-interception game of his career, throwing two, but coach Sam Pittman didn’t turn to backup Malik Hornsby.
Pittman said Jefferson’s limited practice time was a bigger factor in his performance than the injury itself.
“It was about is he healthy enough to play, and the answer was yes,” Pittman said. “So, there was never really a thought of pulling him out because of performance. It was about whether he was healthy or not. And obviously he ended up playing the last quarter or so well. He got back in the groove a little bit.”
Arkansas scored just three points during the first three quarters before scoring 16 in the fourth but still coming up short.
Jefferson, who finished 23 of 37 for 284 yards with two touchdowns against Liberty, is expected to practice more this week and start against LSU.
“My message to the team is if we don’t stay together, it ain’t going to work,” defensive back Quincey McAdoo said. “We’ve got to go back to work.”
–Field Level Media
Five-star quarterback Colin Hurley committed to LSU and reclassified to the Class of 2024 on Friday.
The 6-foot, 213-pound prospect from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., was the No. 3 QB in the 247 Sports composite for 2025 and will be re-ranked for 2024.
Hurley, who visited LSU for a Sept. 10 win against Southern, chose the Tigers over offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Miami and Ohio State, among others.
Hurley joins a loaded quarterback room in Baton Rouge that includes 2023 four-star commitment Rickie Collins, true freshman Walker Howard and redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier.
–Field Level Media
Jayden Daniels ran for three touchdowns and threw two touchdown passes as host LSU handed No. 7 Ole Miss its first loss of the season, 45-20, in an SEC game Saturday afternoon.
Daniels, who had three touchdown runs and three touchdown passes in a 45-35 victory at Florida a week earlier, passed for 248 yards and ran for a game-high 121 yards.
The Tigers (6-2, 4-1) joined the Rebels (7-1, 3-1) and No. 6 Alabama as the only one-loss teams in the SEC West.
Jaxson Dart passed for 284 yards and Malik Heath had eight catches for 145 yards to lead the Rebels, but they were outscored 42-3 after taking a two-touchdown lead in the second quarter.
Daniels threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Mason Taylor to give LSU a 24-20 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Rebels drove to the Tigers 9 on the ensuing possession, but Dart was intercepted by Joe Foucha in the end zone.
Daniels ran 11 yards for a touchdown that increased the lead to 31-20 with 14:18 remaining. He added a 17-yard scoring run, and Josh Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run completed the scoring.
On the first possession of the game Ole Miss drove to Quinshon Judkins’ 6-yard touchdown run.
LSU then reached the Rebels’ 6 before settling for Damian Ramos’ 23-yard field goal.
Judkins ran 3 yards for a touchdown on the next possession to increase Ole Miss’ lead to 14-3.
The Tigers drove into scoring range again, but Ramos missed a 42-yard field goal, leaving the Rebels with their 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Jonathan Cruz’s 32-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter pushed the lead to 17-3.
LSU responded with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to Jaray Jenkins, then forced Ole Miss to punt for the first time in four possessions.
The Tigers’ next possession ended with Daniels running three yards for a touchdown that tied the score at 17.
Cruz’s 48-yard field goal with 4:08 remaining in the second quarter gave the Rebels a 20-17 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media
Jayden Daniels threw three touchdown passes and ran for three more as visiting LSU held off Florida 45-35 in an SEC game Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla.
Daniels completed 23 of 32 passes for 349 yards and ran for 44 yards to lead the Tigers (5-2, 3-1 SEC).
Anthony Richardson threw a touchdown pass and added an 81-yard touchdown run to lead the Gators (4-3, 1-3).
On the first play of the third quarter, LSU’s Josh Williams, who finished with 106 yards rushing, broke free for a 50-yard run. Two plays later Daniels ran 9 yards for a touchdown that increased the Tigers lead to 35-21.
Daniels ran 9 yards for his third touchdown and a 42-21 lead at the end of the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Richardson scrambled 81 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Gators within 14.
Trevor Etienne added a 1-yard touchdown run to trim the lead to 42-35 with 7:39 left.
The Tigers passed on a field goal attempt to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Gators 27 and Williams gained 2 yards with three minutes remaining. That led to Damian Ramos’ 47-yard field goal and a 10-point lead with 1:52 left.
Etienne returned the opening kickoff 47 yards. Two plays later Richardson threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Justin Shorter to open the scoring just 59 seconds into the game.
LSU answered with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to John Emery Jr. to tie the score.
Montrell Johnson ran 39 yards for a touchdown that gave Florida a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Daniels ran 1 yard for a tying score early in the second quarter.
Moments later, Jack Bech muffed a punt and Rocco Underwood recovered for the Gators at the Tigers 13. Five plays later Johnson ran 3 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-goal to give Florida a 21-14 lead.
LSU answered with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to Brian Thomas Jr. to tie the score.
The Tigers took their first lead when Daniels threw a 54-yard touchdown to Jaray Jenkins for a 28-21 lead.
–Field Level Media