Notre Dame made a statement on Saturday by completely dominating Georgia Tech from start to finish. The Irish looked like and played like a playoff team in their 55-0 demolition of the Yellow Jackets, momentarily silencing critics who have been saying the Irish haven’t shown enough to be considered one of the best one-loss teams.
You wanted style points? Notre Dame delivered styles points
Many fans were upset last week that Notre Dame didn’t win bigger after jumping out to a 21-0 lead against a Virginia team missing their quarterback. Well, there’s no room for those fans to be upset this week with the total domination of Georgia Tech. There is not much at all from this game to be upset with without really looking for things to be upset with.
Fans weren’t the only ones less than impressed with Notre Dame last week, though. The Playoff Committee hasn’t been that high on the Irish either because they haven’t had a lot of commanding victories like this one. Brian Kelly started politicking immediately after the game talking up his team. “For those that are interested in style points — and I know you don’t like me for this, but I’m not — I covered that one too. I’ve got to be popular today,” said Kelly.
The last time Notre Dame shut out a Power 5 opponent while scoring more than 30 points? 2014 against Michigan. The last time they shut out a Power 5 opponent and scored 40? That was 2002 against Rutgers when the Scarlett Knights were in the Big East. And lastly, the last time they shut out a Power 5 opponent and scored 50 or more? Lou Holtz’s final home game as the coach of the Fighting Irish in 1996.
Don’t get me wrong, Georgia Tech is a bad football team, but there’s a lot of bad Power 5 teams. Not a lot of Power 5 teams are losing 55-0 every week, though. If Notre Dame does this again next weekend against Stanford, they will position themselves into firm consideration for the final playoff spot. And they will 100% deserve it.
Five straight seasons of 10 or more wins
Today’s win gave Notre Dame 10 wins for the fifth season in a row for the first time in program history. Of course, ten wins isn’t ever the goal of the season, but it has become the new baseline for seasons at Notre Dame, which is something. It wasn’t that long ago that Notre Dame was stumbling through three failed coaches in a row.
Six years ago even, it didn’t look like this kind of sustained success was possible for Notre Dame while they limped to a 4-8 record in 2016. This year’s team was perhaps the most unlikely of 10+ win squads of the five, but the Irish are now staring down an 11-1 record and are still alive in the playoff hunt entering the final weekend of the regular season.
This is the new normal, folks.
Great game from Tommy Rees and Jack Coan
Tommy Rees called an excellent game for Notre Dame today. Georgia Tech is not a very good defensive team, but Rees had the Yellow Jacket defense on its heels from start to finish. Michael Mayer found himself wide open for a walk-in 52-yard touchdown. The screen to Logan Diggs that ended in a touchdown was a beautiful play design and called at a perfect moment by Rees.
Rees did some other nice things, too, like using Kevin Austin in the slot to get him open for a shot play on the first offensive play of the game and then later giving Austin a carry on an end-around out of the slot on a third-down before the game was totally out of hand. Overall this was one of the better called games from Rees in the last two years.
Coan’s day started rough when he took back-to-back sacks to end the first drive of the game, but it was easy going from there. He finished the day 15 of 20 for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Not a bad final game in Notre Dame Stadium for the Wisconsin transfer.
Marcus Freeman dialed up the pressure, and it hit home
I almost felt bad for Jordan Yates today seeing him take hit after hit after hit. Notre Dame racked up six sacks, but they hit Yates even more. I tweeted that he is going to need an ice bath on the flight home because he got hit so much. It felt like he got hit on almost every drop back.
Freeman brought the heat early and often and didn’t stop calling pressure all game long, even when he had his reserves in the game in the fourth quarter. We saw some tremendous pressure from the Irish defense earlier this season and then hit a lull, but Freeman has dialed it back up in the last few weeks. And it’s working. Notre Dame picked up 12 stops on third down today, and on 11 of them, the Irish either registered a sack or a pressure.
Notre Dame played a bit of bend, don’t break defense against USC and North Carolina because of their skill position players, but Freeman has let his defense pin their ears back and rush since then. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa’s fumble return was one of the best moments in recent Senior Day history
It will be tough to top the moment of Lord Myron rumbling his way downfield for a touchdown Saturday afternoon on future Senior Days for a while. Playing this year after losing his father over the summer, Tagovailoa-Amosa had the kind of Senior Day a player could only dream of. Not only did the Irish cruise to victory, but he scooped and scored on a 70-yard fumble return.
If Saturday was MTA’s last game in Notre Dame Stadium – he has eligibility in 2022 – he certainly went out with a bang. The season started with him learning he was named one of Notre Dame’s seven captains over Zoom while home in Hawaii for his father’s funeral and ends with him scoring on Senior Day.
Notre Dame shut down Jahmyr Gibbs
The one player that Georgia Tech had who could hurt the Irish defense was running back Jahmyr Gibbs. He had 58 yards on 12 carries and did not record a single catch. However, he led the Yellow Jackets in receptions and yards coming into today’s contest.
We’ve seen some mixed results from the Irish defense when an opponent had one focal point on offense. They shut down David Bell from Purdue but let Josh Downs from North Carolina in Darke London from USC have big games. Today they added Gibbs into the “shut down” bucket.
Audric Estime looked like he could be a problem in the future
Blowouts let you play younger players who you usually wouldn’t. Today it was freshman running back Audric Estime. The massive running back saw his first action as a rusher for the Irish and picked up 61 yards on six carries. He ran with power but wasn’t just a bull in a china shop running the ball either. He looked light on his feet for such a big back.
Between Estime and Logan Diggs, it really does look like Notre Dame managed to hit on both backs they took after striking out on Will Shipley.