Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Georgia Bulldogs Pick 9/21/19
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 21st, 8:00 PM
Where: Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
Point Spread: ND +14/GA -14
Over/Under Total: 55.5
In the first top ten matchup of the season, 3rd ranked Georgia welcomes 7th ranked Notre Dame to Sanford Stadium for a primetime showdown. This meeting is just the third all-time between the teams, with the Bulldogs having won both previous including a 20-19 win back in 2017 in Jake Fromm’s first game as starting quarterback.
The two teams have had comparable seasons over the past two years, with the Irish putting up a 24-4 record with their only losses against top 20 teams and Georgia 24-5 with all of their defeats coming against top 14 teams. Both had made an appearance in the BCS playoffs, with Georgia making the finals back in 2017 before falling to Alabama and Notre Dame last season when they lost big to Clemson in the semifinal round.
BULLDOG FOCAL POINTS
The Georgia offense is highlighted by two future NFL players, quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift. Fromm is expected to compete against Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert in a battle for who will be drafted first in the NFL Draft. The junior signal-caller finished last season with an impressive 30/6 TD-INT ratio and has continued that success into 2019, throwing for five touchdowns compared to zero interceptions while also completing an impressive 75 percent off his passes.
BETTER THAN EXPECTED
The one concern for Fromm going into the season was who he was going to throw to, as Georgia was lacking in experience at the wide receiver position and took a further hit when Jeremiah Holloman was kicked off the team back in June. There hasn’t been an issue so far though, with 18 different players recording at least one reception through their first three games. Starters Demetris Robertson and Matt Landers haven’t had to play much so far, though Robertson does have two scores already this season, while backups George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock have made the most of their expanded playing time with both scoring a touchdown and putting up at least seven receptions and 160 yards apiece.
After helping the Bulldogs to the 16th ranked rushing offense last season while splitting time with Elijah Holyfield, D’Andre Swift has picked up exactly where he left off, so far rushing for a 9.4 yards per carry average while scoring two touchdowns. Five different running backs have scored for Georgia this season and with a current eighth ranking rushing offense in the country, most certainly will be looking forward to this weekend’s matchup against a Notre Dame defense that ranks 120th in rushing yards allowed per game despite playing against inferior competition so far to start the season.
Vanderbilt, Murray State, and Arkansas State aren’t necessarily the strongest opponents either, but it is still impressive to see Georgia ranked in the top ten in defensive scoring, rushing and total yards allowed per game. Linebackers Monty Rice and Tae Crowder lead the way in the middle, while safety JR Reed is the strength of the defensive backfield. The Irish offense will be their first real test of the season, and how much pressure they can get on Ian Book will go a long way in determining the outcome of Saturday’s game.
With last weeks win against New Mexico, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book extended his record as a starter to 11-1, with his only loss coming against Clemson last season in the BCS playoffs. He threw a career-high five touchdowns against the Lobos while also rushing for an additional score and on the season has yet to throw an interception, a welcome change after throwing a pick in six of the Irish last seven games in 2018.
Book has spread the wealth well with six different Notre Dame receivers having caught a touchdown pass so far this season. Chase Claypool remains the target focal point and has posted nine catches for 190 yards and a touchdown through the teams’ first two games, and along with Javon McKinley, Chris Finke and Tommy Tremble will continue to see plenty of opportunities in the Irish passing game.
Notre Dame was expected to have a dual-headed backfield attack, but an injury to Jafar Armstrong has put the spotlight full-on Tony Jones Jr., who has responded well to the pressure with 127 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. He will face a tough test against a Georgia defense that ranks sixth in the country in rushing with an impressive average of 60.7 yards allowed per game.
FROMM SWIFT STRATEGY
How the Irish plan to deal with both Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift remains to be seen, but they will undoubtedly have to do better than they have so far in 2019, currently sitting at 68th in total yards allow per game along with the aforementioned 120th against the pass, this despite having only played against lowly Louisville and New Mexico. The defensive backfield was supposed to be one of the strengths of the team with Alohi Gilman, Jalen Elliot, and Tony Pride all back, but haven’t found their expected success despite the additional strong showing so far from freshman Kyle Hamilton. They were able to record three interceptions in the first half against the Lobos, but multiple pass interference penalties helped take the shine off their performance, and they will need to turn things around quickly with Jake Fromm awaiting them on Saturday.
THE FINAL DECISION
Basing a pick on past trends is usually not a wise decision, but considering Notre Dame’s drastic lack of success against top talent it would be difficult not to pick against them this week. The Irish are 5-23 in their last 28 games against top 13 teams and a whopping 1-16 in their last seventeen games versus opponents in ranked in the top 6. They have also been especially bad on the road, having won just once in their previous ten road games against ranked opponents. Not only is Georgia a more talented team on both sides of the ball, but with the additional advantage of playing on their home field (13-0 last 13 games at Sanford Stadium) I think it’s an easy choice this week and will be picking the Bulldogs to get the win and cover against Notre Dame on Saturday night in Athens.
Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Georgia -14. Bet this game and ALL your college football bets at discounted pricing (-105 instead of -110) at one of the web’s best football wagering sites: 5Dimes! For more information on this beautiful proposition, go here: betting on games at reduced juice/vig.
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