The holiday season is bringing its share of sequels: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and "Cheaper by the Dozen 2." On Saturday at 6 p.m. in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, the SEC championship offers another installment of Georgia-LSU in the league's showcase game.
It's a rematch of the 2003 SEC title matchup won 34-13 by the Tigers, but many of the characters have changed even since Georgia's 45-16 regular season rout last year.
First-year coach Les Miles, hired when Nick Saban left for the Miami Dolphins, has guided No. 3 LSU (10-1) to the title game for the third time in five years during a season interrupted by Hurricane Katrina.
Thirteenth-ranked Georgia (9-2) is back in the title game for the third time in four years with quarterback D.J. Shockley and defensive end Quentin Moses stepping up as marquee players in place of David Greene and David Pollack.
Smothering defenses, however, remain a constant. LSU and Georgia are No. 4 and 5 respectively in points allowed in the nation at 13.5 and 14.6 per game.
"It's going to be a great matchup," Miles said. "There's a lot of similarities between the two teams and certainly we'll need to play very well to win."
LSU has won nine straight games since losing to Tennessee 30-27 in overtime on Sept. 26.
"They just about won them all," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "If it wasn't for the second half of the Tennessee game, they would be fighting for the national championship game right this minute. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us."
The winner will play No. 12 West Virginia (9-1) on Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl, which has been relocated to Atlanta. The Mountaineers won the Big East title when South Florida lost to Connecticut on Saturday.
A loss could keep Georgia in Atlanta on Dec. 30 to play in the Peach Bowl or even drop the Bulldogs to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on the same date.
Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan said Sunday he thinks the Outback, which selects before the Peach, won't choose Georgia for a return trip to Tampa, Fla. The Capital One in Orlando and Cotton in Dallas are expected to fill their slots with Auburn and Alabama.
"I think the Outback would prefer South Carolina over Georgia and Florida," Stokan said. "Then we've got a decision between Georgia and Florida. If they take Florida, then it's Georgia and South Carolina we have as a decision."
South Carolina (7-3) has a fan base energized after the Gamecocks' surge in Steve Spurrier's first season. South Carolina hasn't been to a bowl game since Outback trips in 2000 and 2001.
No. 17 Florida (8-3) is more attractive coming off a rout of Florida State but played in the Peach Bowl last year. The Peach could match Georgia against Florida State, setting up a game between Richt and his mentor, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden.
"It gets difficult for us when we face teams that are playing in the championship game when you take them back in the same city," Stokan said. "We don't want a team that's not happy to play in our bowl game and is not going to play to its fullest potential. I don't think that would be the case with Georgia."
Notes: Georgia starting offensive tackle Daniel Inman, who injured a shoulder against Georgia Tech Saturday night, could be available on Saturday. Richt did not rule out linebackers Tony Taylor (knee) and Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder) playing on Saturday. LSU leading rusher Joseph Addai was "a little shaken up," in Friday's win over Arkansas but is expected to be fine for Saturday, Miles said. Sophomore offensive guard Will Arnold, who started five games this season, is expected to miss his second straight game because of an infection that hospitalized him this weekend.