If you only watch one college football game this week, make it the top-10 showdown between the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs and the No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Two years ago, the Bulldogs traveled to South Bend and came away with a one-point win. This time around, Georgia is favored by 14.5 points at home with an over/under of 58 points.
The Fighting Irish have only played two games this season, but they won by a comfortable margin in each. Things were a little sluggish in the season opener against Louisville, but Notre Dame was never threatened in that game. Things were a lot easier a week ago when the Irish stomped New Mexico 66-14, showcasing how explosive they can be on offense.
Georgia has also had an easy time early this season. The Bulldogs had a challenge the first week of the season when they traveled to rival Vanderbilt, but they won that game 30-6 without too much trouble. Games the past two weeks against Murray State and Arkansas State both turned into blowouts, as the Bulldogs outscored those teams 118-17.
Not surprisingly, none of Georgia’s opponents this season have been able to come close to matching their athleticism and physicality on either side of the ball. The Bulldogs have just lined up and pushed people around. Quarterback Jake Fromm has only been sacked once and is averaging fewer than 20 pass attempts per game because there’s been little need for his services.
However, that’s likely to change against Notre Dame, which recruits at a similar level as Georgia. Obviously, the Bulldogs aren’t going to abandon their rushing attack with D’Andre Swift averaging over nine yards per rush. But Fromm will have to step up and make some big-time throws against the Notre Dame defense. The caveat is that Georgia’s best wide receivers are all young and inexperienced, so there is still a mystery surrounding Georgia’s passing attack.
By the Book
On the other side of the ball, there should be no question about Notre Dame’s passing game. Quarterback Ian Book proved what he’s capable of doing last season when he took over as the starter a month into the season and led the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff. He’s off to another outstanding start this season and is the biggest reason why Notre Dame has a chance to pull off the upset over Georgia.
However, the Irish will have to answer a question about their rushing attack. Tony Jones Jr. has done a fine job stepping in as the workhorse back, but it’s a bad sign that Book is Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher through two games. More importantly, the Georgia defense is one of the deepest in the country. If the Bulldogs get a handle on the Notre Dame rushing attack, the entire game could fall on Book’s shoulders.
When Notre Dame faced Clemson’s elite defense in the College Football Playoff last year, they were overwhelmed and lost in blowout fashion. It could be a similar story this season against the Georgia defense, especially on the road. Book may not have enough help around him, allowing the Bulldogs to turn this into a rout in the second half. Bet on Georgia to win and cover against Notre Dame.