Posted: 1:51 am Sunday, September 10th, 2017
By Jay Black
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The University of Georgia beat the University of Notre Dame in its first trip to South Bend.
For months and years, Bulldog Nation has had this game circled. UGA fans from all over doing everything they could to get here to see it in person. Some spending way too much money to do it.
But no one will say they didn’t get their money’s worth tonight.
Georgia beat Notre Dame 20-19. With maybe 30-thousand people in red and black living it up.
It was truly unreal.
And the Dawgs didn’t even play well.
What a night. What a weekend.
“What a great college game atmosphere,” said Kirby Smart on the UGA radio network on WSB. “To be able to play in this game, these kids will remember this game forever.”
However, those words were not the first out of the winning coach’s mouth. It was not a first reaction of amazement and pride that the Dawgs made their longest trip up north in more than 40 years and won.
It was one of frustration because the needs improvement list was a little long.
“I’m thrilled for the result,” said Smart. “But I’m not thrilled by the process we took to get there. We tried to give this game away so many times.”
Yes, King Kirby is right. Georgia rallied to beat Notre Dame on a night they should have ran the Irish back into the big Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the north end of campus.
Georgia committed 11 penalties for 127 yards. Most in a game in five years. There were turnovers and drops and missed blocks and sacks and bad throws and missed field goals.
Frankly, if this was Florida and Jacksonville, Georgia probably loses, because isn’t this the kind of game the Dawgs lose on a big stage?
But what does it say that, with all this hype and pomp and circumstance, that Georgia picked up a W on this field with a C-minus performance?
It might say that the Irish might not be that good. But it certainly says that Georgia’s D earned an A grade because the Gold Domes were getting stuffed most of the night.
“That just shows the defense we have,” said Lorenzo Carter who was nearly unblockable. “If we play the way we play, it wears on people.”
Carter certainly wore out these giant Catholic boys tonight. Notre Dame has at least two potential first round picks up front. All five guys top 300 pounds. It’s an SEC offensive line. They couldn’t block the Dawgs.
Nine tackles for loss, 55 rushing yards on 37 carries. That’s an average of 1.5 yards. Remember this is the same team that topped 400 yards on the ground against Temple. I’m aware it’s Temple, but still. ND should at least look competent.
Tonight they were inept.
“Those guys just kept choppin’ wood,” Smart said of his defense. “They never stopped.”
QB Brandon Wimbush was said to be one of the fastest, most dynamic players on this team at any position. He had 16 carries and one rushing yard. One.
It could have been at lot worse if Wimbush wasn’t as mobile as he was. Because he was running for his life quite a bit. UGA had three sacks. It could have been six. At least Davin Bellamy got his to end the game. What a hit.
And they needed every single one of them. Because the offense didn’t really provide much help.
The Jake Fromm for Hall of Fame train got derailed here in the rust belt. He played like a freshman making his first start anywhere, let alone in college football’s cathedral.
The numbers are mediocre 16-for-29 for 141 with a TD (wow what a catch by Terry Godwin), one interception and a fumbled exchange that set up the Irish’s only TD. But, while the freshman didn’t win it, he sure didn’t blow it.
“I think this will be a great learning experience for him,” said Smart. “You got to figure he’s going to grow a lot from playing in this kind of atmosphere.”
UGA’s young offensive line still didn’t dominate, but did enough to open up holes for Sony Michel and Nick Chubb to combine for 136 yards. Plus freshman bullet back D’Andre Swift picked up another 42 on two carries.
It was the classic formula. Play great defense, run the ball and you’ll win.
Something that’s happened in this stadium hundreds of times before, but never by a bunch of southerners wearing Red and Black, barking like Dawgs and enjoying the trip of a lifetime.
It was an unforgettable week for all involved. From Wrigley Field to Notre Dame Stadium. The state of Georgia did itself proud. This whole experience lived up to the hype for a lot of people. And since Touchdown Jesus is still staring at me over my right shoulder, I can say, thank God the game lived up to the hype too.