Celebration penalty dooms Georgia in loss to LSU

When did college football referees decide to hate the world and ruin everyone’s fun?

Down 12-7 with just over a minute remaining in their game against LSU on Saturday, Georgia quarterback Joe Cox found receiver A.J. Green for a 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 13-12 lead.

Following the play, Green foolishly decided to act joyful about the touchdown pass and celebrate with his teammates, who mobbed him in the end zone. The refs flagged Green for excessive celebration (because you know, nobody should be allowed to show emotion about a touchdown), which is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, added on to the ensuing kickoff.

After Georgia failed to convert the 2-point conversation, LSU set itself up at the Bulldog 38-yard line with much help from the penalty. Two players later, Charles Scott broke free for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 18-13. A 2-point conversation later and LSU hung on for a 20-13 victory.

The celebration penalty was a freaking joke. It’s not like Green and his teammates choreographed a dance in the end zone that went on for five minutes, nor did Green mimic calling somebody on a cell phone he hid in the goal post. It was a crap call and at the very least, aided in LSU’s victory. (Scott was also called for excessive celebration after his TD run, which was just as bad as the call on Green.)

That said, Georgia played like crap in the first half, benefited from two costly LSU turnovers that probably would have generated points and allowed Scott to run basically untouched to the end zone on the game-winning touchdown. The Dawgs didn’t do enough offensively to earn the win and while the penalty certainly helped the Tigers, LSU outplayed UGA for most of the game.

As for the Tigers, they owe their 5-0 record and No. 4 ranking to the defense, because the LSU offense has been incredibly inconsistent so far this season. They moved the ball well in the first half and in the fourth quarter against Georgia, but once the Dawgs made adjustments at halftime, the Tigers didn’t have an answer.

Still, getting a win in Athens is tough and LSU deserves credit for the win, especially considering many pundits deemed the Tigers overrated coming into this game.

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2009 College Football Picks & Predictions: Week 5

No. 4 LSU at No. 18 Georgia, 3:30PM ET
Last year, Georgia rolled into Tiger Stadium and laid a 52-38 beat down on LSU as they forced three turnovers and running back Knowshon Moreno (now a Denver Bronco) racked up 163 yards on 21 carries. After an ugly 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State in the opening week of the season, the Bulldogs have rattled off three straight wins and will now face a Tiger team that struggled a bit offensively last week in a narrow 30-26 win over Mississippi State. LSU was outgained 374-263 and only rushed for 30 yards in the victory. The Tigers usually feast on pro-style offenses, so UGA quarterback Joe Cox can’t force throws in attempt to make something happen down field. That said, the Tigers haven’t been tested yet and needed a goal line stand to pull off the win last week. Georgia, on the other hand, has already faced a ranked OK State team and beaten competitive SEC foes South Carolina and Arkansas. The Bulldogs are more battle tested and will overcome a stiff Tiger defense.
Odds: Georgia –3.
Prediction: Georgia 24, LSU 20.

No. 7 USC at No. 24 California, 8:00PM ET
Don’t everyone break your legs jumping off the Cal bandwagon after Oregon smacked the Golden Bears 42-3 last week. Heisman candidate Jahvid Best rushed for only 55 yards in the loss and will face another tough challenge this week against a USC defense that held him to only 30 yards last season. The Trojans have the sixth best defense in the nation and the fifth best scoring defense. They have limited opponents to only 59.5 rushing yards per game and only 95 YPC threw the air. That said, Cal has played USC close over the years and the Trojans have kept things rather conservative offensively with freshman Matt Barkley under center. I see this game being close, although I don’t know if Kevin Riley can beat USC through the air if the Trojans’ front seven takes away Best.
Odds: USC –4.5.
Prediction: USC 20, Cal 17.

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2009 CFB Preview: Georgia Bulldogs

Check out our other 2009 college football previews.

Preseason Ranking: No. 13 in AP Top 25; No. 13 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Caleb King (RB); Joe Cox (QB); A.J. Green (WR); Michael Moore (WR); Justin Anderson (OT); Clint Boling (OT); Rennie Curran (LB); Reshad Jones (S); Geno Atkins (DT); Roderick Battle (DE); Akeem Dent (LB); Prince Miller (CB); Blair Walsh (K).

Key Losses: Matthew Stafford (QB); Knowshown Moreno (RB); Mohamed Massaquoi (WR); Tripp Chandler (TE); Dannell Ellerbe (LB); Jarius Wynn (DE); Corey Irvin (DT).

Player to Watch: Rennie Curran, LB.
The 5-11, 222-pound Curran is coming off a tremendous 2008 season, leading the Bulldogs in both tackles (115) and sacks (3), while also tallying 10 tackles-for-loss. He was named a Butkus Award finalist, selected Fourth-Team All-America by Phil Steele and named First-Team All-SEC. Based on what he did last season, Mark Richt and his coaching staff believe Curran could emerge as one of the best defenders in the country. Given his size, speed and tenacity, Curran could certainly post double-digit tackles in every game this season and become one of the more nationally feared linebackers in college football.

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