Georgia at Notre Dame

Sports Xchange

September 06, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
TV: NBC
SERIES: Georgia leads 1-0. The Bulldogs won the 1981 Sugar Bowl 17-10.
RANKINGS: Georgia No. 15, Notre Dame No. 24

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bulldogs

–QB Jake Fromm, a freshman, will make his first career start after taking over for Jacob Eason, who strained his left knee in the opener against Appalachian State and is out for an undetermined amount of time. In his place, Fromm completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown, leading Georgia to three consecutive scoring drives.

–RB Nick Chubb, one of the top running backs in the country, rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns last week. He’s second on Georgia’s all-time rushing list with 3,518 yards.

–DE Trenton Thompson will have to play at key role for the Bulldog defensive line, which is matched up against the veteran offensive line of Notre Dame, which averages 315 pounds across the front. The Fighting Irish are led by 6-foot-8, 315-pound left tackle Mike McGlinchey.

–STAR J.R. Reed, the son of former NFL standout Jake Reed, made his debut for the Bulldogs against Appalachian State and made a quick impression, coming up with a sack. With Georgia expected to be in nickel for much of the game, Reed’s ability to play the run and the pass is going to be a key part of Georgia’s defensive success.

Fighting Irish

–QB Brandon Wimbush scored his first touchdown of the year on an 8-yard run in the first quarter against Temple. It was the second of his career after scoring on a 58-yard run against UMass in 2015. He later threw his first career touchdown pass.

–RB Josh Adams hit the 100-yard rushing mark on his sixth carry of the day. He finished the game with 161 yards on 19 carries.

–LB Nyles Morgan led the Irish in tackles with nine. Among them was one tackle for a loss. The senior led the Irish in tackles last year with 94.

–LB Te’Von Coney didn’t start but had 1.5 tackles for loss, including one of three sacks for Notre Dame. It was the first sack of the junior’s career.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

No title will be at stake as was the last — and only — time Georgia and Notre Dame met in football, but for both the No. 15 Bulldogs and No. 24 Irish a victory Saturday could be the springboard to bigger and better things down the line.

The teams clash at 7:30 p.m. ET at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.

It will be the first meeting in 37 years, when Georgia beat Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl for the 1980 national championship.

“I think these kinds of games in college football are really cool because you get to go play somebody that you don’t normally play,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I know our fan base is really excited. Our team is excited.

“I mean it will be the first team ever from Georgia to get to go to South Bend and play, and we are excited for that opportunity.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly feels the same way.

“You know, this is the great part of being an independent football team in that you get these kinds of games, getting a chance to play against a team that’s regarded as one of the very best in the SEC,” Kelly said. “So our guys are excited about the challenge and looking forward to Saturday night.”

Per usual, both teams’ quarterbacks will be a focal point in this one, albeit for different reasons.

For Notre Dame, can Brandon Wimbush equal his performance from last week? He not only completed 17 of 30 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns, but rushed for an 106 yards and a score in his team’s 49-16 win over Temple.

Couple that with the fact that running backs Dexter Williams and Josh Adams rushed for 124 and 161 yards, respectively, and Georgia’s front seven figures to have quite the challenge slowing down an Irish offense that ran for 422 yards in its season-opening win.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has a different kind of challenge.

With last week’s injury to starter Jacob Eason, who sprained his left knee with midway through the first quarter against Appalachian State, the Bulldogs will turn to the true freshman who will make his first career start in one of the most hallowed stadiums in all of college football.

In Georgia’s 31-10 victory over Appalachian State, Fromm — a former five-star performer — completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, leading Georgia on three straight touchdown drives.

Teammates are confident he will perform just fine.

“I don’t think it is going to affect him so much because he is so mature,” Bulldog fullback Christian Payne said. “To me, it’s like he’s been out there for a long time because he knows the huddle so well.”

Kelly said his team has tremendous respect for the challenge that Fromm presents to the Irish.

“I’m not an expert, but you know, I’ve been in this game a while, and he’s got a presence about him, and he’s very comfortable running the Georgia offense,” Kelly said. “So, we go into this game expecting a guy very capable in Jake and running their offense and doing the things necessary to be successful.

“So again, the narrative might be that Eason is out, and he’s a fine quarterback certainly, but I think they’re in very capable hands. He’ll do a great job for them. And they’re going to feature two elite backs from an offensive perspective.”

If Georgia is indeed to go to South Bend and come away with the win, running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will need to be at their respective best. Chubb rushed for 96 yards and Michel added 87 against the Mountaineers.

“Well, they’re difficult to tackle one on one at the second level,” Kelly said.

“So, listen, if you let these guys go through to the second level and you’re relying on your safeties one on one from 12 yards off to make tackles, they need to be of NFL pedigree to make those tackles consistently, and I don’t know that they will because these two kids are extraordinary talents.”