National and conference championship aspirations abound Saturday in Athens as No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Georgia, two founding members of the nation’s finest football conference, meet for the 30th time. Toe-to-leather is set for 3:30 p.m. between the hedges of Sanford Stadium and CBS will televise the contest nationally.
ESPN’s ever-popular (if not somewhat tired) pregame show, College GameDay, will broadcast live from Athens on Saturday morning.
This game has potential to become the second Game of the Century for the month of September, but I’m not prepared to anoint it with such a lofty title just yet.
A reader recently commented that SEC Banter needs more statistics. I’ve never been a big statistics guy; always viewed stats as too baseball-y. And, as Jimmy Buffett eloquently said, "math sucks."
But the numbers heading into Saturday’s showdown of storied SEC programs paint an interesting picture. Let’s consider the Tigers-Dogs matchup by the numbers, SEC Banter style.
Top-10 opponents Georgia faces in its first four games: 3. A win Saturday would make Georgia 2-1 against those teams, a perfectly acceptable result to that small portion of non-delusional UGA fans.
Consecutive games LSU has won in the month of September: 29. It’s the longest current September winning streak in the country, with LSU’s last September loss coming at Auburn in 2006. Clearly, September is the Tigers’ favorite month, which means their favorite song must be "September" by the iconic soul/funk/jazz band of the 1970s, Earth, Wind & Fire.
Consecutive games UGA has won in Sanford Stadium: 14. It’s the longest current home winning streak in the SEC. Clearly, home is the Bulldogs’ favorite place, which means their favorite song must be "Home Sweet Home," the power ballad by the iconic glam metal/hard rock band of the 1980s, Motley Crue.
Minutes that LSU has trailed this year: 0. The Tigers have held the lead for all 240 minutes of their four games. Makes you wonder how LSU will react after Aaron Murray gives Georgia a 7-0 lead on a long TD pass early in the game.
UGA’s record when ESPN’s College GameDay sets up shop in Athens: 0-2. In GameDay’s prior appearances in Athens, Georgia suffered a 22-3 setback against Tennessee in 1998 and a 41-30 loss to Alabama in 2008 in the regrettable "blackout" game.
LSU’s record away from Baton Rouge when GameDay sets up shop: 9-2. The two losses were at Florida in 2006 and against Alabama in the 2011 national championship game in New Orleans, the single most dreadful game ever played by LSU.
Consecutive number of LSU-Georgia games televised by CBS: 7. The CBS suits love them some Tigers and Dogs, and what’s not to love with two traditional, successful SEC teams in historically competitive games?
Goofy yet endearing head coach who mumbles and stumbles his way to keeping his program among college football’s elite: 1. You can argue with his style, but the man wins football games.
Principled, admirable head coach and the fourth-winningest active coach in college football who occasionally is criticized for lacking the fire to win a national title: 1. You can argue with his style, but the man wins football games.
Longtime Georgia football office employees granted a week’s vacation because their child is LSU’s starting quarterback: 1. That would be Tammy Mettenberger, mother of Tigers’ signal-caller Zach Mettenberger, the Watkinsville and Oconee High School product who began his college career at Georgia and now comes home to face the Bulldogs.
Mark Richt gave Tammy Mettenberger the week off and made the right call in doing so, because let’s face it, her being in the Georgia football office this week is more awkward than talking about the weather in the elevator with that guy from work who you sort of know.
Aside from Tammy Mettenberger, mothers of LSU players who also work in Georgia’s football office: 23. Kidding; just seeing if you’re paying attention. But LSU does count seven players on its roster who hail from the Peach State, while Georgia has no players from the Bayou State.
Pronunciation guides contained in UGA’s "Game Notes" for the LSU game: 1. It’s actually quite helpful in pronouncing those French-influenced Looziana names. Colby Delahoussaye is pronounced "Dell-uh-hoos-ee," Seth Fruge is "Fru-zhay," Christian LaCouture is "Lock-uh-chur," and so on and so forth.
Offensive coordinators fired mid-season by eventual Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens who wound up in Baton Rouge: 1. LSU’s first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has done wonders with the Tigers’ offense, scoring 35 or more points in all four games this season.
Conservative estimate of Georgia frat boys sporting red pants and LSU frat boys sporting yellow pants who over-honcho their pregame festivities and miss the game entirely: 10.
So, there you have it, your complete guide to UGA-LSU by the numbers, and I trust you’ll consult it early and often during the big game.
In the meantime, I’ve had the admittedly odd combination of Earth, Wind & Fire and Motley Crue in my head all day. Amount of money I just spent downloading "September" and "Home Sweet Home" from iTunes: $1.98. The best $1.98 I’ve ever spent.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for the Forsyth County News. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at ECbanter@hotmail.com.