It could be argued that this just might be the biggest non-conference game of the season. Just a few weeks into the season and college football is already preparing for the second massive shakeup this year.
No. 7 Notre Dame heads to Athens to face No. 3 Georgia for the third time in history. These two teams met back in 2017 when Georgia prevailed 20-17.
Both teams feature top ten scoring offenses but haven’t faced a real test yet. Notre Dame beat Louisville and New Mexico while Georgia blew out Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State.
Run, Georgia, run
The Bulldogs have relied on the ground game for a majority of their offensive plays this year. That could slightly be credited to Georgia trying to run out the clock after going up big in games, but it features talented running backs and a physical offensive line nonetheless. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly knows this will be the toughest offense his team faces this season.
Four starters returned on the line from last season. Plenty of experience and strength as the entire starting O-line has an average weight of 328 pounds.
The average NFL line weighs 314 pounds. One can see why the run game works so well for Georgia.
Running back D’Andre Swift has been able to explode through the holes created by the front five. Averaging just over nine yards per carry, Notre Dame’s defense will need to step up and fill those gaps.
Fighting Irish Take Flight
Meanwhile, Georgia will have its hands full patrolling the sky. Second year starter Ian Book loves to sling the ball downfield. With the third highest passing yards per attempt in the NCAA, Book can spread the defense out and try to open up the run for the Irish.
The problem is that talented defensive line that Georgia will bring. Already with 12 sacks in just three games, the Bulldogs have had their way with opposing offenses. However, head coach Kirby Smart respects the veteran line that Notre Dame brings.
With both teams still in a good position to make the College Football Playoffs, a loss would be devastating but not as bad as one would think. There’s still plenty of opportunities left on the schedule to wow the CFP Selection Committee.
Seven of the nine games left on Notre Dame’s schedule are against power five opponents, two of them ranked in the top 25 (No. 11 Michigan, No.21 Virginia). Meanwhile, Georgia has to fight through a tough SEC schedule with games against No. 8 Auburn, No. 9 Florida and No. 17 Texas A&M. On top of that, another meeting with Alabama in the SEC championship game is also likely, but that would be a must-win game if the bulldogs came into that contest already with a loss.
The pressure is on to stay undefeated. Saturday is going to be another amazing day of college football.