Staff Predictions: Georgia
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, September 20, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor:
I sometimes think that Notre Dame fans are too idealistic about the state of the program and their role in college football. This is not the case. Despite the countless times players have reassured us of their confidence heading into Saturday’s game, there’s no denying that Athens is a new beast that the Irish simply might not be up to the task. I was impressed by last week’s win. The team looks sharp and intense. I’m not saying this isn’t a respectable — or even impressive — team with plenty of important pieces, but this one belongs to the Bulldogs. I don’t see anyway the Irish can counteract Georgia’s run game and their deep balls simply aren’t threatening enough to break that defensive unit. Add in the fact that Georgia’s home crowd is going to be wired in Sanford Stadium, the Irish will suffer their first loss of the season on Saturday.
FINAL SCORE: Georgia 38, Notre Dame 17
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
Brian Kelly and the Irish know that what lies beneath the Mason Dixon line this week is menacing. The Bulldogs, on both ends of the ball, have the speed and skill of even some of Notre Dame’s more challenging opponents from last year, but they outmatch what Notre Dame has seen as far as size and physicality. The SEC is just different, and the Irish are going to have to dive head first into not only the physicality of this Georgia squad, but also the raucous environment of Athens, Georgia. Book will need to be decisive, quick and sharp to keep the offense in the game, and the Irish will likely need Georgia to make some mistakes on its home turf. That being said, I think Georgia’s front seven is beatable. I think the Irish can manage to run on them, so long as Book is effective enough to keep Georgia on its toes. Ultimately, I think if the Irish play to their full potential with the run, and the defense manages to just maintain Fromm and the Georgia offensive ground attack, they could make some noise. I’m abandoning my Notre Dame football pessimism which underlined my fandom last year, and I’m going with the Irish to surprise here. I think they’ll use that SEC energy to fuel the fire and rise to the occasion in Athens on Saturday.
FINAL SCORE: ND 21, Georgia 17
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
This is by far the most difficult game of the season, and I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, Notre Dame is probably going to lose. Junior running back D’Andre Swift lives up to his name and has already rushed for 290 yards through three games after rushing for over 1,000 last season. Junior quarterback Jake Fromm is a Heisman contender and has thrown for 601 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing 75% of his passes. Not to mention senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is one of the best in the nation.
That said, I believe that Notre Dame has the ability to win this one, and I think the pieces are falling into place for the Irish. The Bulldogs are somewhat depleted, having lost 1,000-yard rusher Elijah Holyfield as well as its top five receivers from last season. While Georgia’s strength is on the offensive line, I think the Irish pass rush will give the Bulldogs their toughest test of the season to date. What’s more, virtually every analyst and media pundit is picking Georgia, so the Bulldogs could be cocky and the Irish will have a chip on their shoulder.
It’s inevitable that Notre Dame’s inexperienced linebackers are going to miss tackles against the Bulldogs’ talented running backs, but a veteran secondary will help limit the damage and contain their freshmen receivers. Notre Dame’s offense won’t move like they did against New Mexico, but if players like Avery Davis, Javon McKinley and Lawrence Keys III step up like they did against the Lobos, the Irish have a shot.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, UGA 31
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
Not even Notre Dame fans seem to be betting on Notre Dame this week. The Irish are outmatched in pretty much every facet of this game, the most notable of which is on the ground. With a Georgia offensive line that has an average weight higher than most NFL linebackers, Notre Dame will certainly have its hands full stopping D’Andre Smith and Jake Fromm in full force. The Irish couldn’t even handle Fromm two years ago in South Bend — and he was only a freshman then.
I liked a lot of the things I saw against New Mexico, most notably of which seemed to be a more tangible connection between Ian Book and Chase Claypool, a duo which Notre Dame will need if it has any semblance of hope in Athens. With two games under his belt, Book should have an accuracy more like that of his 2018 self, something which will go far against the Bulldogs.
The Irish secondary certainly seems to be another point of advantage, with Alohi Gilman leading the team in tackles across the first three weeks. If he can keep that up, Notre Dame could certainly limit Fromm’s options, though they won’t be able to completely contain them.
Without a real test until this point, it’s hard to say exactly what the Irish team that comes out Saturday will look like. Regardless, they won’t look like Georgia. I anticipate that Notre Dame can stay within the 14.5 point spread, but this one won’t end in their favor.
FINAL SCORE: Georgia 38, ND 24
Jack Concannon—Sports Writer
The Irish are pretty overmatched here in the run game. Georgia has an elite offensive line, anchored by left tackle Andrew Thomas who will definitely have his name called in the first few picks in next year’s NFL Draft. This could be a monster game for Georgia running back D’Andre Swift, who is no stranger to showing up in huge games. Offensively, the Irish will need to be able to throw into this Georgia secondary. The Bulldogs have looked impenetrable as of late, but also have not faced an opponent the caliber of the Irish.
If the Irish are to win this game, the recipe involves career games from Drew White and Asmar Bilal holding D’Andre Swift to a modest game, and forcing Georgia to throw on second and third down. If there is one place the Irish can hang with the Bulldogs, it’s the Irish secondary against the banged up Georgia wide receiver corps. The team lost its top five receivers from last season, and Demetris Robinson and Tyler Simmons have already dealt with injuries. Forcing Georgia to pass is going to be the team’s best bet. On offense, it is likely the opposite, the Irish may have to throw forty times to win this game. Being direct, Ian Book needs to play the best game of his Notre Dame career. The Irish need another gear from him than we’ve seen so far. Is this entire scenario occurring at once particularly likely? Probably not. I’m not going to predict it, but it’s certainly possible. The Irish have a great group and a capable coaching staff, it would be a mistake to count them out entirely. Looking at you Paul Finebaum.
FINAL SCORE: UGA 31, Notre Dame 21