The Fighting Irish are coming off their most complete performance of the 2020 football season. Brian Kelly will lead Notre Dame back to Bobby Dodd Stadium for the first time since the days of Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija back in 2006. Before the Irish can turn their attention to Clemson, Notre Dame must take care of business on the road in Atlanta and continue to develop the passing attack.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: October 31st at 3:30 pm ET on ABC
- Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
- Matchup History: The Irish are 28-6-1 all-time against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Last meeting 2015: Irish won 30 to 22)
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -19.0
The current forecast for GameDay shows a 10% chance of rain with a high of 63 degrees and a low of 45.
Georgia Tech Details:
- Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
- Head Coach: Geoff Collins
- 2020 Record: 2-4 (2-3)
- 2019 Record: 3-9 (2-6)
Georgia Tech Storylines:
Head coach Geoff Collins is transitioning the program out of the triple-option. The last time Notre Dame squared-off against Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets were ranked 14th and led by head coach Paul Johnson. That matchup seems like an eternity ago from where the programs are in 2020.
In year two, Collins is tasked with transforming Georgia Tech from the triple-option to the typical college football spread offense. The Yellow Jackets have been struggling this season, and this is an unusual transition for any program.
Matchup moved from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Notre Dame was set to clash with Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta this fall, but with the global pandemic, the matchup was moved to Georgia Tech’s campus. Since it is Notre Dame, expect future matchups to take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Key players for the Yellow Jackets. Dual-threat quarterback Jeff Sims leads the Georgia Tech Offense. On the year, Sims is 83 for 150 (55.3%) with 1,196 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. The Yellow Jackets quarterback has 69 rushing attempts for 275 yards (4 yards per carry) with 4 rushing scores.
Accompanying Sims and the offense is running back Jahmyr Gibbs and wide receiver Jalen Camp. Gibbs has 69 rushes for 308 yards (4.5 yards per carry) with two rushing touchdowns, while Camp has 17 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Notre Dame Storylines:
Passing attack takes a significant step forward. Without a doubt, the biggest area of concern throughout the season is the passing game. Last weekend, Ian Book and his receivers had their best performance of the year. Ben Skowronek and Michael Mayer proved to be viable options for Ian Book. Skowronek had 2 catches for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Mayer had 5 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
How can the Notre Dame Offense continue to improve? Tommy Rees needs to find a few more weapons through the air. Tommy Tremble and Javon McKinley need to step and be prepared for the Clemson matchup. Perhaps the biggest x-factor for the Clemson matchup is Braden Lenzy, who appeared to re-injure his hamstring against Pittsburgh, and appears doubtful though he is on the depth chart.
Will the receivers that stepped up against Pittsburgh be enough to produce against the Clemson Tigers? That is the big question surrounding Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish. It would be nice to see freshman Jordan Johnson get some reps this week or Lawrence Keys III return to the field, but both scenarios are doubtful.
Irish Defense dominates on the road. Clark Lea’s defense faced a backup quarterback in Joey Yellen but holding anyone to 3-points on the road is a tremendous accomplishment. Do not forget the same Joey Yellen led Pittsburgh team only lost on the road to currently ranked #12 Miami by 12-points the week prior.
Head to Head Matchups:
Notre Dame Offense vs. Georgia Tech Defense: The Yellow Jackets are giving up 41 points per game this season. In contrast, Notre Dame is averaging 36 points per contest. If the Fighting Irish want to do everything in their power to prepare for Clemson, they will continue to let the football fly while using a multitude of targets.
The Irish could run the ball all weekend against Georgia Tech, but they must focus on the passing game before the matchup with #1 Clemson.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Georgia Tech Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Clark Lea’s defense is holding opponents to just 10 points per game, while the Georgia Tech Offense is averaging 23 points this fall.
The clear advantage in this matchup is with the Irish Defense. Notre Dame created turnovers last week, and it may be one of the few ways to try and slow down the Clemson Offense on November 7th.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Georgia Tech’s kicker, Jude Kelley, is 1 for 4 on the season with a long of 32 yards. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer is 6 of 8 this fall with a long of 48 yards.
Last week, the Fighting Irish had a complete game, including special teams. The first half was punctuated by a blocked punt, returned for a touchdown by Isaiah Foskey.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Irish destroyed rival Pittsburgh. Last week, I was pessimistic with my prediction because Notre Dame did not look like a top-5 team against Louisville. However, Brian Kelly flipped the script against Pittsburgh, and the Fighting Irish dominated every aspect of the football game, as playoff-caliber teams should.
How many points can the Irish Offense put up? Honestly, this game is going to come down to how many points Brian Kelly decides to score against the Yellow Jackets. Some might say this has the potential to be a trap game, but with the balanced attack last weekend and how bad Georgia Tech has played the last few weeks, I do not see that happening.
If Tommy Rees and Ian Book genuinely understand how important this final test is before they face Clemson, they will continue to dominate their opponent and bring more confidence to the entire program.
Prediction: Notre Dame 49 Georgia Tech 10