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Wayne Staats | | September 22, 2019

How Georgia football got by Notre Dame in a huge top-10 showdown

Relive some of the best college football moments of week 4

In front of a record crowd at Sanford Stadium, No. 3 Georgia did just enough to beat No. 7 Notre Dame in a top-10 matchup with possibly College Football Playoff implications.

Here's how Georgia got the 23-17 win.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame: How the Bulldogs won the top-10 showdown

It wasn't easy. The blowout some expected never materialized, as Notre Dame pushed Georgia to the end in a 23-17 loss.

Though the Irish were one dimensional most of the night, Irish QB Ian Book almost pulled out a crazy rally.

Here's what we learned from Georgia's win:

  • Georgia flashed more offensive balance, rushing for 152 yards; Notre Dame had only 46 yards and had 12 penalties.
  • A crucial decision to kick a field goal instead of going for the clincher almost cost UGA.
  • Though Georgia remains undefeated, Notre Dame might have changed some of its big-game perceptions that have hurt it.

TOP 25 scores: Get caught up with ranked results

Jake Fromm and Georgia didn't spread out Notre Dame much in the first half, as he had 11 completions for only 59 yards. But he ended with 187 yards and a touchdown on 20-for-26 passing. He also got support from the ground game, especially in the second half. D'Andre Swift had 98 yards and a score on 18 attempts.

Notre Dame would have welcomed that kind of balance. While Book had 275 passing yards and two touchdowns, he also had two interceptions (one off a receiver's hands) and had 47 attempts. On the ground, the Irish had only 46 yards.

Despite all that, Georgia almost let the Irish rally from in the fourth quarter.

STAYING PERFECT: Here are the remaining unbeaten teams this season

With it 20-10 UGA, the Bulldogs faced a 4th and 1 from the Notre Dame 26. Instead of trying to get the first down and possibly score what would essentially be the clinching touchdown with less than seven minutes to go, Georgia settled for a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal to make it 23-10.

Notre Dame answered with a Book touchdown pass and then forced a punt to give itself a chance to steal a win in front of the largest crowd in Sanford Stadium history (93,246).

Though the stunner never happened, the Irish might have changed some perceptions. Coming in ranked No. 7, Notre Dame was 1-18 in its most recent 19 games against AP top-5 teams. It also had a blowout loss to Clemson in the CFP semifinals a year ago. And there's no forgetting the brutal 42-14 rout to Alabama in the national championship game during the 2012 season.

Notre Dame drops to 2-1, with a visit from ranked Virginia up next. Georgia doesn't play again until it heads to Knoxville to play slumping Tennessee on October 5.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame: Score, updates

Click here for live stats.

Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17 | Final

Whew — if you're a Georgia supporter. The Bulldogs chased Ian Book, who heaved it deep but didn't find the miracle catch.

The Bulldogs almost coughed it away, but did just enough to remain undefeated.

Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17 | 2:00 4Q

Notre Dame kicks it deep and it works out perfectly. A bad snap on third down forces Fromm to hurry and throw it away.

And then UGA has only a 27-yard punt.

Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17 | 3:12 4Q

Well, well, well. Notre Dame struggled all second half until it really needed to score. Book guides the Irish to the end zone and is up to 261 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.

Notre Dame has only 46 rushing yards, but it's keeping it close.

Georgia 23, Notre Dame 10 | 6:53 4Q

Notre Dame tries for a spark on a flea-flicker but it ends in Irish disaster, as J.R. Reed jumps it for the interception.

Notre Dame this half: Interception, punt, punt, interception.

UGA takes off four more minutes from the clock, but gets a field goal instead of a touchdown. Blankenship is again clutch, this time from 43.

Georgia 20, Notre Dame 10 | 13:19 4Q

Georgia adds space on the scoreboard thanks to a great 15-yard TD catch from Lawrence Cager, who maintains possession and gets down one foot for the score.

Notre Dame hasn't been able to do anything in the second half, while Georgia has started to assert itself. Fromm is up to 172 yards through the air as UGA continues to throw it down field unlike the first half.

Georgia 13, Notre Dame 10 | End 3Q

As Notre Dame's offense sputters, Georgia is starting to get physical. Swift is up to 81 yards on 14 attempts — and added an impressive highlight hurdle.

It's also officially a record crowd at Sanford Stadium, with 93,246 in attendance.

Georgia 13, Notre Dame 10 | 2:18 3Q

Notre Dame's offense is falling apart. The Irish had a very manageable third-and-2 but commit a false start...and then do it again on fourth down. That's now six on the night.

The Irish have also gone three-and-out on three consecutive possessions.

Georgia 13, Notre Dame 10 | 4:21 3Q

Georgia is starting to open it up a bit. And it's working. Fromm has 62 passing yards in the third quarter after only 59 in the first half.

It doesn't end in 6, as Simmons can't make the tough catch. Blankenship comes in and gives UGA the lead for the first time.

Georgia 10, Notre Dame 10 | 8:31 3Q

A truly wild play that sees a Book throw to an Irish receiver, who can't grab it, allowing Divaad Wilson to make the interception. Wilson then fumbles it, but UGA gets possession as it goes out of bounds.

But the Irish, with some help from a personal foul penalty, hold UGA to a Blankenship 40-yard FG. Fromm is 14-for-17 but has only 85 yards (5 yards per attempt).

Notre Dame 10, Georgia 7 | 10:49 3Q

Georgia almost gets Notre Dame with the draw on third-and-16, but the Bulldogs come a few yards short.

Really huge stop by the Irish defense as UGA gets around midfield with a couple first downs but then stalls. Swift is up to 53 yards on 10 attempts. We'll see if Georgia tries to establish the run even more.

Notre Dame 10, Georgia 7 | Halftime look

  • Yards: Notre Dame 163; Georgia 114
  • Turnovers: Georgia 1; Notre Dame 0
  • First Downs: Both with 7
  • QBs: Book (ND): 16-for-24, 146 yards, TD; Fromm (UGA): 11-for-12, 59 yards
  • RBs: Jones (ND): 4 attempts, 9 yards; Swift (UGA): 7 attempts, 33 yards, TD

Notre Dame hasn't had much success when it's tried to run, but that hasn't hurt it yet. The Irish are trusting Book to win this, sometimes with short passes that are acting as semi-run plays, other times by actually going deep.

Book has already connected with Kmet seven times for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Notre Dame 10, Georgia 7 | Half

A fun  end of the half. Notre Dame shows field goal, prompting UGA to call a timeout. So the Irish send out back the offense and take a shot in the end zone...only to throw incomplete.

In the end, Notre Dame gets the field goal it was originally looking for and leads at the half.

Georgia 7, Notre Dame 7 | 2:27 2Q

What a response by Georgia. No quick strike, but a methodical drive of 13 plays and 75 yards in 8:12.

Swift secured the touchdown with a 3-yard run. Fromm continues to be efficient — and the playbook seemed to open up a bit down the field. He's now 11-for-12 for 59 yards.

Notre Dame 7, Georgia 0 | 4:53 2Q

It's been a fast-moving quarter. And more injuries for Georgia, as LG Solomon Kindley is helped off the field with a leg injury.

Bulldogs are inside the Notre Dame 30.

Notre Dame 7, Georgia 0 | 10:39 2Q

It took a ton of effort, but Notre Dame finally finishes off the big Georgia mistake with a 1-yard Ian Book TD pass to Cole Kmet.

Georgia made the first HUGE mistake of the game, as Tyler Simmons tried to call fair catch but didn't come up with the ball. The Irish recovered inside the Georgia 10.

The Irish decided to try to get the TD through the air. It took a the limit — and included a dangerous pass — but Notre Dame finally scored.

Georgia 0, Notre Dame 0 | 2:34 1Q

A crucial holding penalty on 2nd and 1 hurts UGA, as does good pressure from the Notre Dame defensive front. Fromm is 6-for-7 but has only 16 passing yards.

Georgia 0, Notre Dame 0 | 6:47 1Q

First big decision for Notre Dame is to go for it on 4th and 2 from UGA did not go well. A bad snap forces Book to hurry and throw it. Good effort falls incomplete near a diving receiver.

Georgia 0, Notre Dame 0 | 8:29 1Q

UGA goes pass heavy on the first drive and Jake Fromm goes 4-for-4 for 8 yards, so nothing deep yet. The Bulldogs punt it back to the Irish.

Only one rushing attempt on that first possession.

Georgia 0, Notre Dame 0 | 12:05 1Q

Georgia is already without starting corner Tyson Campbell and now see Eric Stokes getting helped off the field with an injury.

In Notre Dame's first series, the Irish picked up two first downs and got close to the 50, but Ian Book's incomplete pass forces a punt.

How We Got Here — 8:10 p.m.

Georgia is No. 3 after routing Vanderbilt 30-6, Murray State 63-17 and Arkansas State 55-0.

Notre Dame is ranked No. 7 with a 35-17 win at Louisville and a 66-14 win against New Mexico.

The Stakes — 8 p.m.

As we get ready for kick, here's a look at some other big results from this week.

Three top 15 teams have lost: No. 10 Utah to USC, No. 11 Michigan to No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 15 UCF at Pitt. It's UCF's first loss in the regular season since 2016. In a big SEC game, No. 8 Auburn won at No. 17 Texas A&M, 28-20.

So there's going to be some big movement this week — and there will be even more if Notre Dame can shock Georgia.

Pregame — 7:45 p.m.

Georgia is 2-0 against Notre Dame all-time, but this is the first time they're playing in Athens. When UGA played at the Irish two years ago, there were a lot of fans in the stands. Looks like Notre Dame won't repeat that in Georgia.

Pregame — 7:30 p.m.

ESPN's "College GameDay" was in Athens, Georgia for only the fourth time ever. It's Notre Dame's first visit to UGA. And it's in a game between two top-10 teams.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame: Time

The Bulldogs and Irish play at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Georgia v. Notre Dame: TV channel, how to watch

You can watch the game live on CBS. It can also be watched on here.

Georgia vs. Notre Dame: Preview, prediction

No more waiting. The much-hyped UGA-Notre Dame showdown is finally in game week.

It's the second top-10 nonconference matchup of the season, following No. 6 LSU vs. No. 9 Texas in Week 2. But this one will feel a little different.

WEEK 4: Live scoreboard, stats | TV schedule for every game

The Irish have played a top-5 SEC program on the road only once before: 1999 at No. 4 Tennessee. The Vols won by 24.

Two years ago, Georgia went to Notre Dame and beat the Irish in Jake Fromm's first start. Since then, UGA has done just about everything except beat Alabama and win a national title. Notre Dame is also looking to take that jump over the final hurdle, as the Irish fell big to Clemson in the CFP semifinals last year.

This game could do a lot for people's perceptions of Notre Dame. The Irish haven't beaten a top-5 team since defeating No. 3 Michigan in 2005 in Ann Arbor. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is 0-4 against top-4 teams; Georgia beat two top-5 teams in consecutive games in the 2017 season alone (Auburn and Oklahoma).

Any time a non-SEC school can beat a highly ranked team in the SEC, it will turn heads.

RANKINGS: AP Top 25 Poll | Coaches Poll

Notre Dame
Tale of the Tape Georgia
2-0 Record 3-0 (1-0 SEC)
No. 7 AP ranking No. 3
Brian Kelly
(62-35, 233-92-2)
Coach (record at school, overall) Kirby Smart
13 (1988 most recent) National championships 1 (1980)
Ian Book
553 yards (6 TDs, 0 INTs)
Passing leader Jake Fromm
601 yards (5 TDs, 0 INTs)
Ian Book, Tony Jones Jr.
Both with 127 yards
Rushing leader D'Andre Swift
290 yards, 2 TDs
Chase Claypool
190 yards, TD
Receiving leader George Pickens
162 yards, TD
507.0 Offensive yards per game 565.3
373.0 Yards per game allowed 243.0
50.5 Points per game 49.3
15.5 Points against 7.7

And even if Georgia loses, it still has plenty of time and opportunities to make the CFP for the second time in three years. The Bulldogs still must play Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and then possibly in the SEC Championship Game. UGA reached the playoffs in 2017 as the one-loss SEC Champion. That could happen again. However, in the five-year history of the CFP, there has yet to be a two-loss team to make the field. That could mean UGA has no margin for error if it loses to Notre Dame.

As for the Irish, could a loss mean the end to CFP hopes? Ranked Virginia and Michigan are still to come, but Southern California, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Stanford don't look like the big-game opportunities they could have been even a week ago — three of them lost and Virginia Tech beat FCS Furman by 7. And since Notre Dame is Independent, there is no conference title game (or 13th game data point) to make a last-minute statement to the Selection Committee. If Notre Dame loses to Georgia, it might be too much of a hill to climb.

UNBEATEN TRACKER: Here are the remaining undefeated teams this season

Both teams have looked mostly dominant, though really remain untested. With Fromm and D'Andre Swift, UGA has clear offensive starpower. The offensive line might be the difference, as the Bulldogs average 286.7 yards per game and 7.6 yards per rushing attempt.

Notre Dame's Ian Book leads the Irish in both passing and rushing. But there could be big trouble on the defensive front. Through two games against New Mexico and Louisville (teams a combined 5-19 last season), Notre Dame is allowing 461 yards total and nearly 5 yards every attempt. That could doom any Irish chances.

Notre Dame might keep it close for a half, but Georgia should be able to wear down the visiting Irish.

The Pick Georgia 31, Notre Dame 17

Georgia vs. Notre Dame: Series history, scores

This is only the third meeting between UGA and Notre Dame, but the first two had big championship implications.

In the 1980 season, No. 1 Georgia played No. 4 Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 1981). With the game tied 3-3, the Irish didn't field a kick, allowing the Bulldogs to fall on the ball. Star UGA RB Hershel Walker scored his first of two touchdowns two plays later. Walker finished with 150 yards as the Bulldogs won 17-10 and the national title.

The two didn't play again until 2017. With No. 15 Georgia playing at No. 24 Notre Dame — and with UGA fans making parts of South Bend look like a sea of red — the Bulldogs won on a late Rodrigo Blankenship field goal. That helped charge Georgia to an eventual appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Date Winner Score Loser Location
Sept. 9, 2017 No. 15 Georgia 20-19 No. 24 Notre Dame South Bend, IN
Jan. 1, 1981 No. 1 Georgia 17-10 No. 7 Notre Dame Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)

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