Battle of Athens: Reaction to Notre Dame vs. Georgia Football Game

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Battle of Athens: Reaction to Notre Dame vs. Georgia Football Game

Photo Courtesy of Georgiadogs.com

Photo Courtesy of Georgiadogs.com

Photo Courtesy of Georgiadogs.com

Logan Drone and Cole Weintraub

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Logan’s Reaction: Week 4 of College Gameday took place in Athens, Georgia, where the college football world experienced the first taste of the CFP (college football playoff). The clash was between two powerhouse squads in Notre Dame and Georgia, both teams that have played in the CFP the previous two years. The game was the first real test for either squad, both looking for a chance to play for the National Championship in January. Both teams started off slowly, as the game was tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. Then, at the start of the second quarter, Notre Dame capitalized on a huge mistake by Georgia, recovering a muffed punt to give Notre Dame the ball at the 10. The Fighting Irish would soon punch it into the endzone for the first score of the game just a couple of plays later, giving them the lead 7-0. Georgia soon retaliated, rushing the ball into the endzone the next drive. As the game went into halftime, the Irish had the lead 10-7 in an evenly played game by both sides. Coming out of halftime, both teams’ first drives were flat, both resulting in punts. Then, Georgia’s running game turned into second gear, finding holes left and right in Notre Dame’s defense. This opened up the passing game for Jake Fromm, resulting in Georgia to score in 4 straight drives, scoring 16 unanswered points to give the Bulldogs the lead 23-10 with about 6 minutes left. During that same time, Notre Dame maintained flat, punting the ball twice and giving up two turnovers in that span. After Georgia kicked a field goal to go up 23-10, Notre Dame finally decided to work as a unit and march downfield to score a touchdown with about 3 minutes left. After a huge defensive stop by the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame got the ball again, looking for some fourth-quarter magic to pull off the upset in Athens. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, Georgia’s defense prevailed, winning the game at a final score of 23-17

I have a few takeaways from this game as a whole. First off, both of these teams look like SERIOUS title contenders. Notre Dame will have to win out and get some help by the field to make the top four, but that is something definitely possible as they were able to hang in there with the best-of-the-best. Notre Dame received high praise from Georgia coach Kirby Smart right after the game, as he said “I’ve got a lot of respect for the way they played, and all the negative things they’ve heard, and to come out and play the way they did. They played really physical as a team”. Georgia will have to play some more tough matchups in the SEC, but after seeing how they played in the second half of this game, they’ll be able to play against Alabama any day of the week. Another takeaway from this game is that Georgia’s running game is very dangerous. Behind stud running back DeAndre Swift, the bulldogs run game will be lethal against the best teams in the league. This is huge for the offense as well, as it opens up the defense, allowing for more pass plays for big gains from QB Jake Fromm, one of the smartest passers in the league right now. One final takeaway from this game is that Notre Dame QB Ian Book needs to trust his arm. In the second half alone, Book only had 1 pass of more than 20 yards, and in key situations, he never took any shots deep to star receivers Chase Claypool and Chris Finke. When the offense was flat during the whole third quarter and start of fourth quarter, Book defaulted to the short pass, even when his receivers had one-on-one coverages downfield. If Notre Dame wants to be a playoff team, they need to utilize the long ball and throw deep more frequently when there is a mismatch in the secondary. Overall, this game was huge for the college football world, as it showed that both squads are capable of coming out on top in early January, hoisting the National Championship in New Orleans.

 

Cole’s Reaction:  The Notre Dame and Georgia matchup was the first playoff atmosphere that we have seen this season.  Athens was booming! Notre Dame had the lead at halftime, but Georgia’s second-half gameplan led to a 23-17 victory.  There were a bunch of things that stood out to me about this game. Regarding the time of possession, Georgia had the football nine minutes longer than Notre Dame.  Jake Fromm, the Georgia quarterback, only threw the ball 26 times while Notre Dame’s quarterback Ian Book slung it a whopping 47 times. This was beneficial for the Bulldogs as they were able to find the Irish’s weakness… the run defense.  Georgia as a team had 33 rushing attempts for 152 yards and a score. Most notably, DeAndre Swift carried the ball 18 times for 98 yards with a touchdown. Swift has been a beast all year, and he looks to be a player that could potentially have a solid NFL career. The Notre Dame offensive line did a great job for Ian Book, not allowing a single sack.  The Irish could not get anything going with their backup running back Tony Jones Jr., who is filling in for the injured Jafar Armstrong. The lone star for Notre Dame in this game was the 6’5” junior tight end, Cole Kmet. He came out of nowhere in this game. He had not recorded a stat this season until Saturday’s matchup. In his first two seasons at ND, he only caught 17 passes for just 176 yards and no touchdowns.  Well when the lights shined bright, Kmet finally got an opportunity. He hauled in 9 passes for 108 yards with a touchdown. He seemed to be one of Book’s favorite targets, whether it be for short yardage or as a deep threat (longest catch was 31 yards). Kmet will look to repeat this performance in the upcoming weeks and potentially turn himself into an NFL prospect. All in all, I believe Georgia is a playoff team regardless of their matchups against #7 Auburn, #9 Florida, and #23 Texas A&M.  They will hold their own especially if Fromm and Swift are at the top of their games. I also see Notre Dame being a potential playoff team ONLY if they win out the rest of the season.  The Fighting Irish do have some good opponents ahead, including #20 Michigan and #21 Southern California.  This will end up being a very interesting race going into January.

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