Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Georgia Bulldogs Expert Picks and Betting Odds
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday September 21, 8 p.m. ET
When Georgia played at Notre Dame in 2017, it was an instant classic, with Georgia winning 20-19. It was a game that had it all, and it only makes sense that the anticipation for the rematch here is at a fever pitch. It's not just that two high-profile teams are meeting up in a non-traditional showdown. It's that both of these teams are really good. Notre Dame was a playoff team last year and hopes to be again. Georgia has been before and has serious aspirations of being one again. Both teams are ranked in the Top 7 nationally - Notre Dame seventh, and Georgia third. This is an incredibly relevant game to the national title hunt, and it comes just past the middle of September. It doesn't get much better than this.
Notre Dame at Georgia Betting Storylines
Evaluating where Notre Dame is at right now is a very tough thing to do. You have to make a whole lot of assumptions and leaps of faith. They won handily at Louisville and beat up on New Mexico in their first two games. The secondary has been excellent, their defensive line has pretty much set up shop in the face of opposing quarterbacks, and Ian Book has passed well with six touchdowns and no picks. They have done a lot to like and a lot that could ease the minds of some skeptics. But they have not really proven anything, and now they are taking a massive jump up in class.
Sure, Book has been effective and composed, but neither team he has faced has had a pass rush worth noting. Georgia does. They have feasted on the two offensive lines they have faced, and the defensive line dominance is a big reason the team has a +6 turnover advantage through two games. But Georgia is bigger and tougher up front, and Jake Fromm hasn't tasted the turf much this year through three games. Notre Dame's secondary has been stout, but they haven't faced anything like they will here. Now, lazy critics and blindly loyal SEC fans will look at that and say that Notre Dame simply can't measure up against a Georgia squad. It's obviously not nearly that simple. We know what they can do against outmatched competition. But how much of it can they translate effectively to this new, much bigger stage?
One big area of concern for the Irish has to be their running game. Led by Dexter Williams, their run attack is more competent than impressive. And not hugely competent at that. Georgia hasn't faced much in terms of running strength so far in their three games, but Vanderbilt likes to run and is decent enough at it. The Bulldogs have allowed less than two yards per carry on the season. Notre Dame isn't good enough on the ground to significantly exceed that level of performance. That means that Book's offensive attack is going to be more one-dimensional than is ideal, and the pressure on Notre Dame's receivers will be intense. It also puts a lot of pressure on the Georgia secondary. And we don't really know what that means, either. They have not been tested so far. And though they are better on paper than they were last year, we don't know how that will translate, either. The big challenge in early-season marquee matchups is college football is that there is so much that we can't know until we see it - and we haven't seen anything yet.
Notre Dame at Georgia Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Georgia favored by as few as 10.5 points in early action, but that number has leapt up through the key number of 14, and Georgia is now widely favored by 14.5 . More than 60 percent of all bets have been placed on Georgia, so the line isn't likely to fall without significant news. The total opened at 56 and is drifting slightly upwards. It is widely at 57 and can be found as high as 58.5.
The Irish are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven against teams with winning records and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 in September, but they are just 0-3-1 ATS in their last four road games. The Bulldogs are also 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 against teams with winning records. Notre Dame has gone "under" the total in four of their last five overall, and Georgia has gone under in 22 of their last 31 at home.
Notre Dame at Georgia Predictions and Picks
Georgia is probably more talented. But they have questions, too. And there is the inevitable SEC bias of the public at play here as always. Georgia should be favored, and probably comfortably so, but this is just too many points to give up against a quality opponent that will not be overwhelmed by this stage. Notre Dame is the play against the spread .
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