GEORGIA BULLDOGS (1-0)
at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (1-0)
Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, IN
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: Notre Dame -4, Total: 57.5
#15 Georgia's true freshman QB gets his first career start in a challenging road setting.
As of Thursday, resale tickets for this weekend's Stanford-USC matchup started at around $30. Oklahoma-Ohio State passes were around $80, and those wanting to see Auburn play at Clemson would have to at least shell out a hefty $130 per ticket. Oh, want to see Georgia play #24 Notre Dame in South Bend? That will be 536 dollars, please. So to say that anticipation is high for the Irish's second home game this season would be an understatement, and you can expect a riled up crowd at the Golden Dome looking to push their team past their marquee SEC opponent. Last weekend, Notre Dame took their first step in moving past last year's dismal 4-8 campaign with an impress 49-16 win over visiting Temple, handily covering a 20-point spread against an opponent that is by no means a pushover. Georgia also made things look easy in their opener, taking down Appalachian State 31-10 to win and cover an 11.5-point spread. Since 1992, Notre Dame is 47-21 Under when their defense has forced two turnovers. In the same timeframe, Georgia is 21-64 ATS when allowing at least 28 points to their opponent, so history would indicate that they won't be too excited if this game turns into a shootout. One enormous injury looms over this game, that of Georgia starting QB Jacob Eason. Redshirt freshman Jake Fromm will start in his place.
If his performance against App State was any indication—and it should be to some extent, as the program is known for its excellent defense—Fromm is a capable starter. Some have even pondered whether he'll be better than Eason, although his extreme inexperience should halt that sort of talk immediately. Eason had only had the opportunity to attempt three passes against the Mountaineers before leaving the game due to injury. Fromm asserted himself quickly, however, leading the Bulldogs to three touchdown drives in the first half alone. He finished with a clean and efficient (if unspectacular) stat line, completing 10-of-15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, without turning the ball over. No receiver caught more than three passes, but WR Javon Wims had more than half the team's receiving yards with 81 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Obviously, with a freshman quarterback behind center, the Bulldogs will be relying heavily on their running game. It's something they would be doing anyway, however, as they have perhaps the most talented backfield in the nation. Senior RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have each had 1,000-yard seasons in their career, and each was effective against App State: Chubb carried the ball 15 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while Michel took 16 carries for 87 yards and a score. Georgia's ability to split carries between two elite backs means both can avoid fatigue and be running on all cylinders at all times.
While Fromm gets his first career start on Saturday, the game will represent only the second career start for Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush. He's far more experienced as a junior, though, and he looked like a seasoned veteran in the opener against Temple. He completed 17-of-30 passes for 184 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Perhaps more significantly, he carried the ball 12 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. His ability to scramble clearly had the Owls on their toes, opening up both the passing game and the running game for his backs. WR Equanimeous St. Brown, who many believe will be up for All-American consideration at the end of the season, led the Irish in receiving with four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. TE Nic Weishar caught Wimbush's other TD pass. TE Durham Smythe had two catches for 34 yards before leaving the game with a possible concussion, but is considered likely to play against Georgia. After missing last season due to academic ineligibility, once-highly heralded TE Alize Mack caught two passes, as well—clearly, Wimbush likes using his tight ends. Notre Dame's dominance, though, came on the ground, as they absolutely tore up the Owls for 422 rushing yards. Wimbush was one of three hundred-yard rushers, alongside RBs Josh Adams (19 carries, 161 yards, 2 TDs) and Dexter Williams (6 carries, 124 yards, TD). Both Adams and Williams had a run of 60+ yards, showing the type of explosiveness that could be pivotal in what figures to be close games against Georgia. While Adams is the clear lead back, Williams and RB Tony Jones (6 carries, 19 yards, TD) figure to continue receiving significant time going forward.