SEC Championship Viewers' Guide

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email
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SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
When: 4pm Saturday
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Telecast: CBS / WVLT

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN (SEC Rank in parentheses):

RECORD
UT: 9-3, 6-2 SEC
LSU: 10-2, 6-2 SEC

RANKINGS
UT: 14 AP / 15 USA Today
LSU: 5 AP / 7 USA Today

SCORING OFFENSE
UT: 35.0 (5)
LSU: 40.2 (2)

SCORING DEFENSE
UT: 28.7 (11)
LSU: 20.1 (2)

PASS OFFENSE
UT: 255.1 yards/game (4)
LSU: 227.3 ypg (5)

PASS DEFENSE
UT: 244.5 ypg (11)
LSU: 175.1 ypg (2)

RUSHING OFFENSE
UT: 148.8 ypg (9)
LSU: 219.5 ypg (2)

TOTAL OFFENSE
UT: 403.9 ypg (5)
LSU: 446.8 ypg (3)

TOTAL DEFENSE
UT: 402.9 (11)
LSU: 278.9 (1)

TENNESSEE-LSU SERIES NOTES:

Tennessee leads the all-time series with LSU 20-6-3, dating to 1925. The teams have met just twice at neutral sites, with Tennessee posting a 24-17 win in the 1972 Astro Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, and LSU downing the Vols 30-21 in the 2001 SEC Championship Game.

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer sports a 3-3 career record against the Tigers. In the first matchup between Fulmer and third-year LSU head coach Les Miles, the Vols rallied from a 21-0 third-quarter deficit to upset the fourth-ranked Tigers 30-27 in overtime in Baton Rouge in 2005. LSU held off a late Tennessee rally last season, downing UT 28-24 in Knoxville.

UT (1998) and LSU (2003) are two of the three SEC teams to have won a national championship during the BCS era.

Five players on Tennessee’s 2007 roster—Chris Brown (Destrehan), Ahmad Paige (Monroe), Jarrod Shaw (Lafayette), Lucas Taylor (Carencro) and Ja’Kouri Williams (Plaquemine)—hail from the state of Louisiana. Brown and Taylor both have started every game for UT this season, and both have also served as game captains.

Tennessee head strength and conditioning coach Johnny Long is a native of Baton Rouge, La.

PREGAME QUOTES

PHILLIP FULMER ON LSU:
“When you look at LSU—and we have seen them all year long on film because of common opponents—they are a very talented football team. Offensively, the balance they can present you with makes it really difficult. The quarterback is a heck of a player. He’s done an outstanding job of leading their offense. They are so multiple and do so many things that they are hard to defend. They have a big, physical offensive front, outstanding receivers, an outstanding running back, really just the whole package as an offense.

“Defensively, I don’t know if anybody in the country has a better front than what they can put on the field. It’s not just the starters. They have backup guys that come in and you say, ‘he’s going to be a pro’ because of the way they play. The linebackers are really good, and (Ali) Highsmith is one of the best football players we’ve seen all year long. Their secondary is outstanding.

“It’s also interesting to note that they have the number one kicker, the number one punter and the number three kick return guy in the conference, so the kicking game will be a big-time match up as well.

LSU COACH LES MILES ON TENNESSEE:
“I understand that Tennessee is very good. We played them the first two years that I was here. Both games were decided late in the game. It is a very competitive team and our team is no different. They are very talented with quality men on both sides of the ball. I think (Erik) Ainge is a tremendous quarterback and can really throw it. Their defense includes a front seven of big, strong and physical guys. Their secondary has athletic talent.”

“Their receiving core is led by Lucas Taylor, who leads the conference in receiving.”

“Tennessee is better than they have been. We are going to have to play well to win. We look forward to that challenge. Let me go play for the SEC title. I am right where I want to be. There only two teams in this conference that get the opportunity and right to practice this week. There are two teams playing for the conference championship and I am thrilled to be one of them. I look forward to competing against Tennessee in Atlanta on Saturday.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QUARTERBACK
UT: Erik Ainge - 280-436 (64.2%), 2908 yds, 27 tds, 8 int
LSU: Matt Flynn - 183-332 (55.1%), 2233 yds, 17 tds, 10 int

RUNNING BACK
UT: Arian Foster - 1107 yds, 12 tds, 5.3 yards/carry
LSU: Jacob Hester - 897 yds, 11 tds, 4.9 yards/carry

WIDE RECEIVER
UT: Lucas Taylor - 975 yds, 5 tds, 13.7 yards/catch
LSU: Brandon Lafell - 576 yds, 3 tds, 12.8 yards/catch

DEFENSE
UT: Jerod Mayo - 112 tackles, 7.5 tfl, 1.5 sacks
LSU: Glenn Dorsey - 61 tackles, 12 tfl, 6 sacks
Ali Highsmith - 86 tackles, 7 tfl, 1.5 sacks

KICKERS
UT: Daniel Lincoln - 21-26 fgs, long of 48 yds
LSU: Colt David - 23-29, long of 49

PUNTERS
UT: Britton Colquitt - 50 punts, 42.1 yards/punt, long of 57 yds
LSU: Patrick Fisher - 52 punts, 43.8 yards/punt, long of 61


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