College Football: Georgia vs Notre Dame - D1SportsNet


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College football

Georgia vs Notre Dame

When Georgia and Notre Dame met for the first and only time in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, a national championship was on the line.

Vince Dooley's Bulldogs won that game 17-10, capturing the program's most recent national crown.

Flash forward 37 years to Saturday night in South Bend, Ind., when the No. 15 Bulldogs (1-0) and No. 24 Fighting Irish (1-0) meet once again.

Although there's no title at stake, it's a contest that could well serve as a springboard to both teams' respective seasons, each eager to revisit the glory that's been absent from both programs in recent years.

"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," Bulldogs head 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 Saturday's 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 6:30 left in 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.

Against 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'll 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, runnnig backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will need to be at their respective best.

Chubb rushed for 96 yards while Michel added 87 in the opener 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."