SEC Championship: 'We're Ascending,' Says Georgia's Kirby Smart, And LSU 'Far From Finished,' Says Tigers' Brian Kelly

It will be a matchup few, if anyone, expected or selected.

LSU, picked to finish fifth in the SEC West at the SEC Media Days last July with zero first place votes, won the West on Saturday and will play SEC East champion and No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Atlanta (4 p.m., CBS).

The No. 7 Tigers (8-2, 6-1) won 13-10 at Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, then pulled for its hated rival Alabama to beat Ole Miss, which it did, 30-24. That gave LSU and first-year coach Brian Kelly the title via the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rebels (8-2, 4-2), who lost to LSU, 45-20, on Oct. 22

SEC Championship Game To Match Two Teams On The Rise

"We're far from a finished product," said Kelly, who left Notre Dame last December to come to LSU, which was 11-12 in its previous two seasons. "No one feels like we've arrived."


Georgia (10-0, 7-0 SEC) defeated Mississippi State, 45-19, late Saturday to clinch the East. The defending national champion Bulldogs were picked to win the East at SEC Media Days with 172 of 180 first place votes.

"Our team keeps getting better," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the game. "I think we’re ascending at this time and I was proud of the way they competed."

Meanwhile, No. 25 Washington upset No. 6 Oregon, 37-34, late Saturday, likely knocking the Ducks (8-2) out of the College Football Playoff picture with two losses.

A Georgia loss in the SEC title game would likely keep the Bulldogs in the CFP final four at 12-1, assuming Georgia wins at Kentucky on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS) and in its regular season finale at home against Georgia Tech in Nov. 26.

LSU Could Be A 2-Loss Team In College Football Playoff

If LSU, which will likely be a double-digit underdog against Georgia, upsets the Bulldogs, it could throw the CFP voting into a frenzy. The Tigers would likely be the only two-loss team in the final four. And there would be another SEC team like in - Georgia. It is unlikely LSU would be left out after just winning the SEC.

Interestingly, LSU was one of the rare teams in college football history to win a national championship with two losses in 2007. The Tigers reached that BCS national championship game at 11-2 after beating No. 14 Tennessee, 21-14, in the SEC Championship Game. LSU jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 in the final BCS poll after two teams ahead of it - West Virginia and Missouri - were upset in the final weekend before the final BCS poll. LSU beat Ohio State for the national title.

LSU and Georgia last met in the 2019 SEC Championship Game. The Tigers won 37-10 on their way to a 15-0 national championship season.

Georgia lost the SEC title game to Alabama, 41-24, last year, but the Bulldogs beat the Tide, 33-18, in the national championship game.

LSU will be in its seventh SEC Championship Game and will bring in a 5-1 record. The Tigers beat Georgia, 34-13, in the 2003 SEC title game on their way to a national championship season, lost to the Bulldogs, 34-14, in the 2005 league title game and beat Georgia, 42-10, in the 2011 SEC title game.

Georgia will be in its 10th SEC title game and is 4-5.

"I'm really proud of them," said Smart, who has won four SEC East titles since taking over the Bulldogs before the 2016 season. "I think people take it for granted sometimes. It's hard to do what they've been doing." 

Written by
Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.