Underdawgs: LSU faces long odds to upset No. 1 Georgia in title game
Published 9:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2022
LSU head coach Brian Kelly doesn’t have to pump up Georgia with a lot of superfluous coach-speak this week.
The boys out in the Las Vegas desert have done it for him, loud and clear, with no ulterior motives.
The odds against the Tigers upsetting the No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Bulldogs are long and tall — 17.5 points, according to ESPN’s oddsmakers.
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That, according to its website, gives LSU a 17 percent chance of bringing home the conference trophy.
It’s not the largest odds a team ever faced in what will be the 31st playing of the SEC Championship game, but it’s close.
And an LSU victory Saturday in Atlanta’s Mercedez-Benz Stadium would be by far the biggest upset in the history of the game.
Florida was a whopping 24-point favorite against Arkansas in 1995, the fourth rendition of the game, and the Gators lived up to it with a 34-3 shellacking.
The Gators were 21.5-point underdogs to Alabama 2016, when the Tide eventually prevailed 54-16.
Detecting a trend yet?
The line for Saturday — and it could change — would tie LSU as the third-largest underdog ever to play in the game.
Florida was also a 17.5-point underdog in both 2015 and 2020, both times against Alabama.
LSU can take heart that neither of those were runaway routs. You don’t get a trophy for covering those spreads, although it can sometimes soothe the pain for certain factions of the fan base.
Florida lost 29-15 in the 2015 game. Nothing to be ashamed of. But the 2020 Gators, the same team that LSU upset in the infamous “thrown-shoe game” in Gainesville a few weeks earlier, put quite a scare into Alabama before the eventual national champion survived a shootout and a furious UF comeback to win 52-46.
LSU already owns a share of the biggest point-spread upset in SEC Championship game history.
But that was the mere seven-point line the Tigers faced in their inaugural trip in 2001, under Nick Saban, against Tennessee.
It was one of the rare times the game truly cost an SEC team as the Vols would have made it to the national championship game under the old Bowl Championship Series system.
But backup quarterback Matt Mauck came off the bench for the injured Rohan Davey and rallied the Tigers to a 31-20 win.
Alabama was also a seven-point underdog in 1999 when it whipped Florida 34-7.
The oddsmakers are generally more on point.
This week’s odds no doubt bulged after LSU lost last week to Texas A&M as 10-point favorite.
Surprisingly, perhaps, there have been 11 double-digit spreads in the SEC title game.
The favorites are 11-0 — although five covered their wide spreads.
LSU is 5-1 — straight up, as they say — in its six previous appearances.
The Tigers were a part of the only “push” — when the line hits the final margin on the nose — in the game’s history when they beat Tennessee 21-14 as a seven-point favorite in 2007.
LSU was favored in all but that first appearance against Tennessee, including by seven in its last trip in 2019 when Joe Burrow put on a show in a 37-10 rout of Georgia.
But they were also a 2.5-point favorite against the Dawgs in 2005, Les Miles’ first season, when they suffered their lone loss, 34-14.
LSU was favored by three in 2003 when it beat Georgia 34-13 and by 12.5 in 2011 when the Tigers beat the Bulldogs 42-10.
Against the Odds
How underdogs have fared in the SEC Championship game:
Year, Favorite, Score, Won, Covered
2022, Georgia by 17.5, LSU vs. Georgia, ?, ?
2021, Georgia by 6.5, Alabama 41, Georgia 24, No, No
2020, Alabama by 17.5, Alabama 52, Florida 46, Yes, No
2019, LSU by 7, LSU 37, Georgia 10, Yes, Yes
2018, Alabama by 11, Alabama 35, Georgia 28, Yes, No
2017, Auburn by 2.5, Georgia 28, Auburn 7, No, No
2016, Alabama by 21.5, Alabama 54, Florida 16, Yes, Yes
2015, Alabama by 17.5, Alabama 29, Florida 15, Yes, No
2014, Alabama by 14.5, Aabama 42, Missouri 13, Yes, Yes
2013, Missouri by 2, Auburn 59, Missouri 42, No, No
2012, Alabama by 7.5, Alabama 32, Georgia 28, Yes, No
2011, LSU by 12.5, LSU 42, Georgia 10, Yes, Yes
2010, Auburn by 3.5, Auburn 56, South Carolina 17, Yes, Yes
2009, Florida by 5, Alabama 32, Florida 13, No, No
2008, Florida by 10, Florida 31, Alabama 20, Yes, Yes
2007, LSU by 7, LSU 21, Tennessee 14, Yes, Push
2006, Florida by 3, Florida 38, Arkansas 28, Yes, Yes
2005, LSU by 2.5, Georgia 34, LSU 14, No, No
2004, Auburn by 14.5, Auburn 38, Tennessee 28, Yes, No
2003, LSU by 3, LSU 34, Georgia 13, Yes, Yes
2002, Georgia by 8, Georgia 30, Arkansas 3, Yes, Yes
2001, Tennessee by 7, LSU 31, Tennessee 20, No, No
2000, Florida by 9.5, Florida 28, Auburn 6, Yes, Yes
1999, Florida by 7, Alabama 34, Florida 7, No, No
1998, Tennessee by 14, Tenn. 24, Mississippi State 14, Yes, No
1997, Tennessee by 7, Tennessee 30, Auburn 29, Yes, No
1996, Florida by 14.5, Florida 45, Alabama 30, Yes, Yes
1995, Florida by 24, Florida 34, Arkansas 3, Yes, Yes
1994, Florida by 7, Florida 24, Alabama 23, Yes, No
1993, Florida by 4, Florida 28, Alabama 13, Yes, Yes
1992, Alabama by 10, Alabama 28, Florida 21, Yes, No
, , , 23-7, 13-16-1