On paper, this is a huge top-10 matchup between Georgia and Notre Dame, two teams with College Football Playoff aspirations. However, look a little deeper, and not many believe the Fighting Irish have a chance to make the playoff again. That’s why the Bulldogs were early -14 point home favorites with an over/under of 56.
These teams met a couple years ago in 2017, the season that Georgia went to the CFP, but it’s unwise to put too much into that game. The Bulldogs used a dominant rushing attack between Sony Michel and Nick Chubb to win 20-19. While Georgia moved the ball fine, Notre Dame couldn’t do much as it averaged 1.5 yards per carry for 55 rushing yards.
Is the Irish “D” Up to the Task?
The Fighting Irish aren’t getting as much love for this game because the defense has struggled a bit. They had trouble putting away Louisville and then gave up 212 rushing yards to New Mexico.
Most are expecting Georgia to run for its usual 300 yards and while that’s possible, this is easily its hardest matchup of the early season. But while the Bulldogs like to lean on D’Andre Swift and company in the ground game, Jake Fromm’s ability shouldn’t be overlooked. The rushing attack gets most of the attention, but Fromm can light it up when needed, averaging 10.7 yards per attempt on 75.0% completion.
Still, Georgia has had issues when playing its first difficult defense of the season. Two years ago, it was the one-point win against Notre Dame and last year it was the 20-point loss to LSU.
Irish Offense Always a Threat
Notre Dame has the offense to keep up. The offensive line may not be as good as a year ago, but Ian Book is in his first full year as the full-time starter and he’s started by slinging 11.8 yards per attempt for six touchdowns.
The question is if they can run the ball against this Georgia front and if not, that could be why Georgia covers. Tony Jones and Book are both averaging at least 5.5 yards per carry, but this is a different kind of defense.
Up against a top-end defense like Clemson last year, Notre Dame simply couldn’t do anything en route to three points. Georgia may not be as good, but they are arguably the second-best defense the Irish will have faced the last two seasons.
A lot of people will look to Notre Dame’s 30-3 loss to Clemson last year as validation for taking Georgia in this game. However, that’s rarely a good thing to do, especially between seasons.
The Bulldogs may have more talent, but it remains to be seen how dominant this team can be. In their first true test of the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was close the entire way.
The Irish are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four road games, but 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven against a team with a winning record. The Bulldogs don’t have any relevant trends, though the under has hit in three of their last four.
Our Pick – Notre Dame +14