10 quick thoughts on Georgia’s 23-17 win over Notre Dame
Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17
10. No … pass … rush. Both defensive fronts did their respective parts against the run, but neither one did enough to rough up the quarterbacks. There weren’t any sacks, there wasn’t enough pressure, and both passers were able to be a wee bit too comfortable at times. Give them credit, though, for getting the ball out of their hands in a hurry, and it helped the Irish that …
9. The Notre Dame receivers are the absolute truth. Cole Kmet is a difference maker – out the first two games, he caught nine passes for 108 yards and a score. Chase Claypool is a matchup nightmare making six grabs for 66 yards and a score, and overall, this group battled with the terrific Georgia defensive backs and won their share of fights.
8. Yeah, okay, Kirby Smart was relatively conservative, but it worked out. He has a killer kicker in Rodrigo Blankenship, and the man came through with three big field goals in the second half including a 43-yarder. That made the difference. Should Georgia have gone for it to try to go up 17 with under eight minutes to play? Ehhhhhh, maybe, but in the end, that field goal mattered. Notre Dame driving late down six was a whole lot different than being down three.
7. The Georgia running game wasn’t there. Give the Irish defensive front a whole ton of credit for doing more than just hold up against what might be the nation’s best offensive line. The Bulldogs ran for 152 yards, but they certainly didn’t take over the game on the ground or come up with any huge dashes. D’Andre Swift was mostly bottled up – 98 yards and a score on 18 carries – but …
6. The Irish running game wasn’t there. The talking point after the blowout over New Mexico was that the Irish didn’t really need to crank upt the ground attack. The idea was to get the passing game sharpened up for what was coming, but the 157 yards and four yards per carry were uninspiring. There isn’t a Dexter Williams tearing off big home runs, and Tony Jones hasn’t broken out yet. Against Georgia, Notre Dame was held to 46 yards on just 14 carries, which meant it was all about the quarterback play. And …
5. Ian Book is very, very good. If he becomes the next Patrick Mahomes at the next level then I’ll absolutely own it, but for now, he doesn’t appear to be as good as Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields, or Joe Burrow.
What’s the difference between the elites and the rest of the poor slobs just trying to get by? The superstar NFL-caliber quarterback.
Book completed 29-of-47 passes for 275 yards and two scores with two picks, and he ran for 18 yards. That’s fine work against an elite defense, but that’s not good enough. He needed to be special, and even though he wasn’t, his best almost got the job done.
Book also isn’t as good as …
4. Jake Fromm is better than you think. He’s not as dynamic as Fields, and he might not have the NFL prototype body and tools of Lawrence or the arm of Tagovailoa, but he’s always the coolest guy in the room. No, he wasn’t able to quite put the game away with a key late third down throw, but he was a crisp 20-of-26 for 187 yards and a score with no picks. That’s what the team needed, and he was able to get the job done. That’s what the elite quarterbacks do on the elite teams.
3. At least in the regular season, Brian Kelly teams can hang with the elites, but they just can’t win. But that’s the deal. Yeah, it’s nice to be so close to 2019 Georgia, and 2017 Georgia, 2015 Clemson, and 2015 Stanford, and 2014 Florida State, and 2013 Oklahoma, and 2011 Michigan, and 2010 Michigan State, but the elites are the elites because they win these tight games.
It always seems like the Irish are just a few key parts – and a little more depth – away, but this game matched the conventional wisdom before the showdown. Notre Dame could ball with Georgia, but it couldn’t quite win it.
2. Now the Irish need to get out their Georgia pom-poms. This was a good enough performance by Notre Dame on the road to stay in the College Football Playoff race if – and only if – Georgia goes on a tear and wins the SEC title game. Going to Michigan will still be a battle, and Virginia, USC and maybe Virginia Tech and Stanford could be fights, but … nah.
If the Irish keep playing this well on the lines, they’re going to be a tough out and should be close to 11-1. Unfortunately, in a year when Bama, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and now Wisconsin, look like killers, it’s going to take some praying to get close.
1. Nothing changes for Georgia. It doesn’t matter where it’s ranked – it actually doesn’t matter where anyone is ranked until the CFP types do this for real. Win the SEC Championship and go 12-1 – at worst – doing it, and it’s in. Or be 12-0 and lose to a 12-0 Alabama or LSU could do it. This was a big step and provides a wee bit of a buffer. Had the Dawgs lost, there would be no way they could’ve lost to Florida, or at Auburn, or to Texas A&M, or in the SEC Championship, if it gets there. Georgia held serve at home.