College football’s reigning champion Georgia Bulldogs will aim to course-correct last season’s lone misstep. Georgia was defeated by Alabama in last year’s SEC Championship Game. Georgia went on to reign victorious throughout the four-team playoff, but that defeat looms large on Kirby Smart’s mind.
The 11th-ranked LSU Tigers stand in the way of Georgia and an SEC Championship title. The Bulldogs are overwhelming 17.5-point favorites. LSU must locate unique X-factors if they hope to execute an unthinkable upset on Saturday. The Bulldogs mustn’t overlook LSU.
Several high-end 2023 NFL Draft prospects will take the field for both Georgia and LSU. Their talents will directly shape the outcome. We’ve swiftly identified three players that are Saturday’s X-factors on opposing sides.
JALEN CARTER DT, GEORGIA
Jalen Carter is the most dominant interior defensive lineman in college football. The No. 2 overall player in our latest TDN100 update, Carter has recorded 25 total tackles and 2.0 sacks in 10 regular-season appearances. The stats don’t tell the complete story. Carter is a game-wrecker that commands attention from opposing offensive lines. In-house scout Joe Marino sent Carter to the Detroit Lions in his latest NFL mock draft.
Georgia’s fierce defense is allowing a stingy 11.3 points per contest. They’re the No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the nation. They’re a talented bunch, but Carter is at the forefront of that success. If LSU’s offense is to experience any resemblance of success against Georgia, they’ll have to find a solution to the mismatches Carter promises to create.
KAYSHON BOUTTE WR, LSU
LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte hasn’t enjoyed the fruitful campaign he appeared destined for. Boutte has recorded just 42 receptions for 431 yards and a touchdown through 10 contests. Boutte has just one 100-yard performance under his belt for LSU this season. Boutte has been held to under 50 receiving yards or less on eight occasions. A peculiar social-media-related incident also brought his off-field maturity into question.
Boutte’s pre-draft stock has suffered as a result of his recent shortcomings. Boutte could do his reputation a sizable favor by shining on one of college football’s brightest stages against Georgia cornerback and fellow NFL draft hopeful Kelee Ringo. NFL general managers and scouts will be paying close attention to Boutte’s performance. If LSU is to shock the nation by capturing victory, Boutte must be an X-factor as their primary boundary receiver.
BJ OJULARI EDGE, LSU
BJ Ojulari is LSU’s best pass rusher. Ojulari has recorded a respectable 5.0 sacks this season. It’s been an appropriate follow-up campaign to his 2021 output (7.0 sacks). Ojulari must be in tip-top form for LSU’s defense on Saturday.
Ojulari should receive plenty of snaps to prove his prowess against Georgia’s projected first-round left tackle Broderick Jones. Ojulari will do his pre-draft stock a favor should he rise to the occasion. Ojulari versus Jones is one of the game’s finest head-to-head matchups from an NFL draft standpoint.
LSU is a massive underdog in the SEC Championship Game. Ojulari is their most impressive defender. A shocking upset would require Ojulari to prove himself as an X-factor for the Tigers’ overmatched defense.
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