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Georgia Bulldogs vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Prediction

Nick Chubb

Nick Chubb

Like many Power 5 schools playing Group of 5 teams, Georgia and Notre Dame had relatively easy victories in week one. But if you look closer, both wins were quite impressive.

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Georgia beat an Appalachian State team that returns 12 starters from a 10-win season in 2016 in which the Mountaineers won a bowl game and probably should have beaten Tennessee. Plus, the Bulldogs got the win despite losing starting quarterback Jacob Eason early in the game. Notre Dame’s opponent, Temple, did have to replace a considerable amount of startersfrom last year and also is breaking in a new coach. But the Owls are coming off consecutive double-digit win seasons featuring a very strong defense and the Irish ran for 422 yards against that unit.

Now the Bulldogs (and thousands of their rabid fans) will make the trip to South Bend to play the Irish. In the only meeting between the two schools, Herschel Walker had 150 rushing yards and two scores as Georgia won both the 1981 Sugar Bowl and the national championship.

Georgia at Notre Dame

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Notre Dame -4

Three Things to Watch

1. Jake Fromm’s first start

There is a faction of Georgia fans that thought the true freshman from Warner Robins was the best option at quarterback goimng into game one. After taking over for an injured Jacob Eason and running the offense effectively in the win over Appalachian State win, that group may feel vindicated. The pace immediately picked up as soon as Fromm entered the game and the offense seemed to click. But playing a home game against Appalachian State and suiting up in a prime-time showdown at Notre Dame Stadium are two different things. Georgia coaches will not ask Fromm to win the game on his own, but Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko will try to force the young quarterback into making mistakes.

2. Notre Dame offensive line

There are some concerns at right tackle, but you can’t quibble about the Irish line play against Temple. After all, 422 yards rushing is 422 yards rushing, especially against a traditionally solid run defense with a new, defensive-minded head coach. The left side of the Notre Dame front was particularly impressive, not that that is a really big surprise. The question this week is can Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, and the rest of the offensive line continue their momentum against a Georgia front that is among the nation’s best? The Bulldogs gave up 136 rushing yards to Appalachian State, but the Mountaineers needed 32 carries to do so and most of the damage came on a pair of runs (20-yard TD and a 32-yard gain) by quarterback Taylor Lamb. Outside of those two plays Appalachian State managed just 84 yards on 30 carries or 2.8 yards per attempt.

3. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel vs. Notre Dame's run defense

It took a while, but the Georgia running game finally got going to the tune of 221 yards against Appalachian State. Neither Chubb nor Michel (right) reached 100 yards, but they were both close and they combined for three rushing touchdowns. The Notre Dame defense that will look to slow the two Georgia stars got off to a bit of a slow start of its own against Temple, allowing Owls running back Ryquell Armstead to churn out 60 yards midway through the second quarter.  But the Irish defenders buckled down as Temple finished with a total of 85 yards on 37 carries (2.3 ypc). It’s unlikely that Notre Dame will totally stop the Bulldogs on the ground, but the Irish will need to hold it down a bit to put Fromm in some obvious pass situations.

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Final Analysis

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Georgia

Week one scores are not a great indicator of week two and beyond results. But both Georgia and Notre Dame did what each team needed to do in the opening weekend. Now it’s a new ball game. True freshman Jake Fromm will have to handle his emotions in his first start, but so too will Fighting Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush, making his first start under the truly bright lights. The Bulldogs are a quick, experienced defense that can pressure opponents in many different ways. The key will be both running games. While there are more offensive line questions surrounding Georgia, the defense has better personnel than Notre Dame possesses on that side of the ball. In a very tight contest, the Dawgs make the throng that ventured north very happy.

Prediction: Georgia 31, Notre Dame 30

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.