CAN NOTRE DAME BEAT GEORGIA IN ATHENS? INSIDE GEORGIA’S NUMBERS.

Saturday night’s match-up between Notre Dame and Georgia will be one of the most anticipated in the history of Dooley Field. Notre Dame comes in ranked #7, while the Bulldogs are #3. Both teams are coming off blowout home victories as Georgia blanked Arkansas State 55 – 0 last Saturday while the Fighting Irish crushed New Mexico 66 – 14. Neither team was really challenged by their opponents last week, but that will change this Saturday night in Athens. Notre Dame may be facing its toughest opponent the entire season in Georgia.

This is Kirby Smart’s fourth season as Georgia’s head coach, and there appears to be a different feeling to the program. There is now a sense that everyone has bought into the program from top to bottom. Smart made changes in the off-season by replacing both coordinators and promoting from within the program.

If Notre Dame plans on winning the Fighting Irish will have to overcome several large hurdles including a Georgia defense that leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 7.7 points per game. The Bulldogs have allowed just 23 points this season, two touchdowns and three field goals.

Notre Dame must find a way to run the football against a Georgia defense that ranks fifth nationally allowing only 60.7 yards per game and has yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Georgia’s defense has posted eight scoreless quarters and has held their opponent to less than 300 total yards after beating Arkansas State last week. The Red Wolves finished with just 220 yards.

It is quite evident that George’s defense may not have the star quality they had over the last two seasons, but the talent base is deeper and better.

There are six players who were five – star recruits, as well as the top junior-college recruit in edge rusher Jermaine Johnson on this defense. If Notre Dame can exploit Georgia’s pass defense they may have a chance. The Bulldogs were vulnerable in the Sugar Bowl at cornerback. So far through three games Georgia has allowed 547 yards through the air which averages 182.3 yards per game. But remember, Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State were all forced to throw the football because of early deficits.

Notre Dame will have to find a way to slow down a Georgia offense that can run and pass the ball equally. In its first three games, Georgia is averaging 286.7 yards per game on the ground and 278.7 yards through the air. If my math is correct that’s 565.3 yards per game of total offense.

Everything Georgia does on offense starts with Quarterback Jake Fromm. There is no question this is Fromm’s team. Fans in Athens have been waiting for him to take the next step and become one of the nation’s elite quarterbacks and lead this team to a national championship. Fromm is off to a great start this season completing 75% of his passes for 601 yards and five touchdowns. If not for early blowouts Fromm’s numbers would be even better.

Fromm has plenty of weapons around him including running back’s D’Andre Swift (294 yards), Zamir White (142 yards), Kenny McIntosh (128 yards) and Brian Herrien (121 yards)…. Receivers George Pickens (9 rec 162 yards 18.0ypc), Dominick Blaylock (7 rec 160 yards 22.9ypc), Eli Wolf (6 rec 90 yards 15.0ypc) and James Cook (6 rec). Demetrius Robertson also has 6 receptions but has played in just two games.

Georgia is a program that is on re-load mentality. It is scary how fast Kirby Smart has made this program as good as it is. There are very few weak spots and their depth is not a concern. This is perhaps the best roster, both talent and depth, in the SEC East. They may have just as much talent as Alabama. If Notre Dame plans on winning in Athens, a place where Georgia rarely loses, the Irish will have to play a near perfect football game.

GAME NOTES:

The Last Time Regarding Top 10 Matchups The last time Georgia played host to a top 10 matchup came in 2013 when ninth-ranked Georgia outlasted sixth-ranked LSU 44-41. The last time Georgia had a top 10 non-conference matchup in Athens came in 1966 when seventh-ranked Georgia beat fifth-ranked Georgia Tech 23-14. The Bulldogs are 6-4 all-time in top-10 matchups at Sanford Stadium (chart on pg. 13 ). The last time Georgia won a top 10 contest came in 2018 in Lexington when the sixth-ranked Bulldog clinched the SEC East with a 34-17 victory over ninth-ranked Kentucky. Inside The Numbers Along with it being a top 10 matchup, both offenses rank in the top 10 nationally in Scoring. Notre Dame checks in at seventh, averaging 50.5 points/game, while the Bulldogs are ranked ninth at 49.3. In Scoring Defense, Georgia ranks third at 7.7 points/game and Notre Dame is tied for 29th at 15.5. The Irish are tied for the national lead in Red Zone Offense going 8-for-8 with seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense ranks fourth nationally in Red Zone Defense. Opponents have scored no touchdowns in the four trips, settling for a pair of field goals and turning the ball over twice versus UGA. Notre Dame also leads the nation in Turnover Margin at +6 through its first two contests.

Did You Know? Georgia has won 15 straight games at home dating back to 2017. That is tied for the third-longest home winning streak in school history. The record is 24 from 1980-83 followed by a 17-game stretch from 2001-04.

Inside the Numbers Under Smart

Record (SEC)…………………………………………………..35-10 (*20-8)

Home/Away/Neutral……………………………………….18-3/11-3/6-4

Versus Ranked Teams (H/A/N)………………………..3-1/3-3/4-4

Versus Top 10 Teams (H/A/N)………………………….1-0/1-1/3-2

Day/Night…………………………………………………………..24-8/11-2

After Bye Week ……………………………………………………2-1

SEC East/West/Non-Conf……………………………….17-3/*3-5/15-2

Conference Record (H/A/*N)………………………….8-2/9-3/*3-3

Score First/Opp. Scores First………………………..28-5/6-6

Leading/Trailing/Tied at Half …………………………30-3/5-6/0-1

Leading/Tr./Tied after 3rd Qtr ……………………….29-5/4-5/2-0

In Overtime ………………………………………………………….1-1

Scoring < 20 Pts./20+ Pts. ……………………………….1-5/34-5

Allowing less than 20 Pts. ……………………………….24-1

Allowing 20-29/30-39/40+ Pts. ……………………..10-4/0-3/2-2

Rushing for less than 100 yards ………………………..0-4

Rushing for over 100 yards ………………………………35-6

Rushing for 200+ yards…………………………………….29-2

Passing for less than 100 yards…………………………2-0

Passing for 300+ yards……………………………………….5-1

Totaling less than 300 yards………………………………0-3

400+ yards of Total Offense ……………………………..27-3

Allowing less than 100 yds. rushing ……………….14-1

Allowing less than 300 yds. Total Off. …………….22-2

Allowing 400+ yds. total offense………………………3-4

Having 100-yard rusher …………………………………….20-1

Opp. have 100-yard rusher …………………………………3-2

No Turnovers / No Takeaways …………… ……………7-3/7-4

In Aug./Sept./Oct./Nov./Dec./Jan.. …………………1-0/15-1/6-4/10-2/2-1/1-2

*includes 2017 SECCG win; 2018 SECCG app., 2018 CFP Natl. Champ. App.