What we learned
Georgia: The Dawgs are a legitimate national title contender. The team that showed up Saturday against LSU was exactly the one many envisioned last spring. The defense was relentless Saturday, with David Pollack routinely beating LSU tackle Andrew Whitworth to get pressure on the quarterback, recently reinstated linebacker Odell Thurman stuffing the run and hard-hitting safety Thomas Davis ... well, what doesn't he do? The All-American was all over the field but made his biggest presence felt when his massive hits forced fumbles by Tigers running back Justin Vincent and fullback Jacob Hester on consecutive possessions. Obviously, LSU doesn't have the world's most renowned offense -- a better test will come next week against Tennessee or in four weeks against hated Florida -- but if Georgia's offense continues to make plays the way it did Saturday, there won't be many teams that can score enough to make a difference.
LSU: The Tigers' offensive line is a big, big problem. Previously, much of the blame for LSU's offensive struggles were placed on the shoulders of new quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell. But there's not much the quarterback can do when he's being buried into the turf by a pack of nasty defenders. Russell, in his most extensive action to date, actually made several nice throws in cutting the Tigers' deficit from 24-0 to 24-10 at the end of the first half. But he got no help from the running game (67 yards on 29 carries), either. Obviously, the game was a nightmare for LSU's defense as well, particularly its cornerbacks, but considering their track record over the past two years, we're going to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was an aberration. The O-line, however, has been a problem in all three of the Tigers' big games (Oregon State, Auburn and Georgia), and time is running short for some sort of improvement.
Player who impressed me
Danny Ware, RB, Georgia: Last season, after Musa Smith left a year early for the NFL Draft, the Dawgs went 14 games without a single player rushing for 100 yards. In the land of Herschel Walker, Terrell Davis and Garrison Hearst, that's downright sacrilegious. Ware, an in-state high school star who arrived this season after a year at prep school, seems to be the answer. The Dawgs' offensive line is still relatively young and not apt to opening up the kind of gaping holes Smith enjoyed in 2002. That's why it helps to have a physical runner like Ware who can make something out of nothing. "He's a great back," quarterback David Greene said. "The good thing about him is he can break tackles. The defense can bring safeties, but he does a good job of running right over them."
Locker room confidential
In an effort to stem the kind of pressure Greene faced against LSU last year, the Dawgs used a "gap protect" formation to fortify the middle of its offensive line. "We wanted to make sure if anything came, it would come from the ends," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Of course, we did the same thing last year, and their guys in the middle came right through our young line." ... Tigers coach Nick Saban was genuinely baffled by the runaway loss. "It was a total curveball for me," he said. "I thought we'd made progress since the Auburn game [a 10-9 loss two weeks ago]. It's going to be interesting to see how we respond." ... Richt opened his postgame press conference with a public apology to Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Jeff Schultz, whom he said he was "short with" in his weekly press conference. Richt, generally one of the most polite coaches in the business, was apparently upset with a column Schultz wrote that was critical of his two-quarterback rotation with Greene and D.J. Shockley. ... Georgia's best offensive lineman, Max Jean-Gilles, left the game with a knee injury. Richt said he doesn't believe it's serious, but the junior will undergo an MRI to be sure. ... The 45 points LSU allowed was its most since a 56-13 loss to Danny Wuerffel-led Florida in 1996.
The Big Picture
Circle your calendar for Nov. 13 -- the day Georgia visits Auburn. The Tigers and Dawgs have clearly established themselves as the teams to beat in the loaded SEC. However, Georgia still has a lot of work to do between now and then. Tennessee comes to Athens next week, and Oct. 30 brings their annual trip to Jacksonville to face Florida -- which they've beaten just once in 14 years. When the Dawgs are clicking on all cylinders like they were Saturday, they are a complete team capable of competing with the best of them -- Oklahoma, USC, Miami, etc. But their first three games can't be completely ignored, either. There may be an element of letdown in their veins that could eventually haunt them.
As for LSU, any remaining mystique from last year's BCS title season has officially left the building. This is still a very talented team, but one whose season is hanging by a thin thread. As if Saturday's debacle wasn't hard enough, the Tigers have to turn around and visit Florida next week. Another loss would put them at an unthinkable 3-3. A win, however, could send them hurdling back toward a New Year's Day bowl. An SEC West title is all but impossible at this point -- they would need to win out and have Auburn lose three times -- but an LSU team that gets hot late in the season and finishes 9-2 or 8-3 would still be very appealing to a major bowl.