The time has come for Brian Kelly and the Irish to prove they belong among the elites of College Football. From recent history, the entire college football world will be counting the Irish out this weekend. This may be a regular-season matchup for Notre Dame, but the magnitude of a victory would help change the narrative that the Irish can’t win the big games.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: September 21st at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS
- Location: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
- Matchup History: Georgia leads the all-time series 2-0 (Last Meeting 2017: Georgia won 20-19)
- Current Odds: Georgia -10.5
The current forecast for GameDay shows a 10% chance of rain with a high of 90 degrees and a low of 61.
- Conference: SEC East
- Head Coach: Kirby Smart
- 2019 Record: 3-0
- 2018 Record: 11-3
Attendance Record Set. Another road game for Notre Dame, another attendance record. Without shock, Sanford Stadium will be adding temporary seating for the clash this Saturday Night. To make sure the 8,000 tickets awarded to Notre Dame will be honored, the Bulldogs have added extra seating to the stadium. These seats will raise the attendance to well over 93,000.
The Irish are undoubtedly relevant more than ever in college football, but are they elite? Fans will find that out this Saturday.
Jake Fromm has grown since South Bend in 2017. The last time Fromm faced the Irish he was a young freshman quarterback. Since then, Fromm has led the Bulldogs to 2 straight SEC Championship appearances, 1 SEC Title, a Rose Bowl win, and two shocking losses to the Alabama Crimson Tide. In his career, Jake Fromm has a 65.7% completion percentage with 59 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Fromm is a pocket passing quarterback and has 99 attempts at Georgia for 49 rushing yards.
Key Players for the Bulldogs. D’Andre Swift headlines the Bulldog backfield and is one of the premier running backs in the country. In 2019, Swift has 31 attempts for 290 yards (9.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock headline the Georgia Receiving core. Pickens has 9 receptions for 162 yards (18 yards per catch) with 1 touchdown while Blaylock has 7 receptions for 160 yards (22.9 yards per catch) and 2 touchdowns.
Kirby Smart’s defense is led by cornerback Mark Webb, who is leading the team with 16 tackles and a forced fumble. The center of the Bulldogs Defense is directed by Monty Rice who is second on the team with 15 tackles.
Notre Dame Storylines
Time for Ian Book to shine. It’s time for the Notre Dame Quarterback to step up and show the college football world he is on the same level as Jake Fromm, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, and others. Book will need to have the best game of his career to escape Athens with a victory. Making good decisions, running the ball, and accuracy will all be required at the highest level this Saturday Night.
Last week against New Mexico, Ian Book needed to play it safe and avoid contact. Against Georgia, he may have to sacrifice his body on a few plays, reminiscent of lowering his shoulder facing USC last season.
Controlling the clock will be vital. Chip Long’s running attack will have to travel to Athens if the Irish want to win this matchup. Through two games, Notre Dame has averaged 4.8 yards per carry on the ground. The Offensive line has tremendous talent, and this is the game where they need to make their presence felt.
Conversely, Clark Lea’s Defense needs to stop the Georgia running attack first. If they can’t slow down D’ Andre Swift and the Irish need to bring people into the box, that will not end well. This season Notre Dame has given up 461 rushing yards in the first, two games. Although both quarterbacks were more of runners than actual passing quarterbacks, the Irish need to improve drastically.
Get pressure on Fromm. The Bulldog Quarterback is one of the best pocket passers in the country. Notre Dame’s strength heading into this season is the talent on the defensive line. Fromm isn’t a dual-threat quarterback but has torched defenses through the air. Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara will need to create havoc this weekend.
Head to Head Matchups
Notre Dame Offense vs. Georgia Defense: In 2017, the defenses dominated this matchup in South Bend. Georgia’s defense has held their opponents to just under 8 points per game, albeit they have played Vanderbilt, Murray State, and Arkansas State.
Notre Dame’s Offense will be without Jafar Armstrong and Michael Young. There is a small possibility the Irish may also miss Cole Kmet and Jahmir Smith. Chip Long and the Offense will face a tremendous challenge going against this SEC Defense.
Georgia Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Georgia Offense has averaged 49.3 pointers per game through their first three matchups. Jake Fromm headlines a strong Bulldogs Offense. Clark Lea brings in an experienced secondary and deep defensive line into this game. The only question mark on defense will be the linebacker play. The Irish have allowed only15.5 points per game this season against Louisville and New Mexico.
Both units are good, but I give the slight edge to Notre Dame.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Jonathan Doerer is 1 for 1 on field goals this season and 12 for 12 on extra points. For the Bulldogs, Rodrigo Blankenship secures the kicking. On the season he is 5 for 5 on field goal attempts, including a 50-yard field goal earlier this season.
There is no distinct advantage in the special-teams department.
For decades the Irish Football program has been ridiculed by the media. Under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has had two undefeated regular seasons but has struggled against the likes of Alabama and Clemson. This weekend is only Week 4 of the season, but if the Irish can pull off the upset, they can shut up the doubters.
Notre Dame hasn’t been the most consistent through all “8 quarters” of the season. There is still a lot to learn about this football team, but they will be facing a top 5 opponent on this Saturday, nevertheless. With the talent on the Georgia roster, coaching, and quarterback play, I don’t see Notre Dame traveling to Sanford Stadium and beating the Bulldogs.
That being said, I will be wearing green this Saturday and watching every second in hopes Notre Dame will accomplish the biggest win of the Brian Kelly era and perhaps the biggest win of my Notre Dame fandom.
Prediction: Georgia 31 Notre Dame 17