Why the anticipated Georgia-Notre Dame game could be a letdown

Georgia football-Notre Dame-Paul Finebaum
D'Andre Swift will look to have a big game against Notre Dame.

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Why the Georgia-Notre Dame game might not be what we think it will be

From an outside perspective, the Georgia-Notre Dame game is one of the biggest games on the 2019 college football schedule. When the two teams meet in week 4, both figure to be unbeaten and likely ranked in the top-10. 

Factor in the potential for bad blood stemming from last year’s College Football Playoff, and there’s a chance that it might be one of the biggest games in Sanford Stadium in quite some time.

But a deeper look at some of the analytics shows that this game might not be what it’s cracked up to be.

Bill Connelly of SBNation wrote the Notre Dame season preview in his excellent season preview series. A brief overview shows why the Fighting Irish figure to be one of the top teams. They’re expected to be double-digit favorites in nine games and return a host of contributors, led by quarterback Ian Book.

But when looking a little bit deeper, Connelly’s numbers show Notre Dame may not be able to hang with Georgia. The thesis of Connelly’s article is that Notre Dame is clearly a good team, but a step below the Alabama and Clemson’s of the world. While Georgia has not yet beaten either of those teams, the Bulldogs are closer to that neighborhood than the one Notre Dame resides in.

Related: Georgia Bulldogs won historic 2017 matchup, but game served as springboard for Notre Dame, too 

The projected margin of victory for the Notre Dame game using Connelly’s number is 14 for Georgia. It gives Notre Dame just a 21 percent chance of winning against the Bulldogs on Sept. 21.

And a look at what Notre Dame lost, especially on the defensive side of the ball, might explain why Georgia might be a bad matchup for the Fighting Irish.

“Linebacker Te’Von Coney and lineman Jerry Tillery were also PFF All-Americans,” Connelly wrote. “They’re gone, potentially rendering a shaky run defense (relatively speaking, anyway) shakier.

“Now the Irish have to replace Tillery, Coney, and linebacker Drue Tranquill. You could make the case that four of last year’s five best defenders are gone.”

The Bulldogs meanwhile figure to have an excellent rushing attack. Georgia returns four of its starting offensive linemen from a season ago. There’s also D’Andre Swift, who ran for 1,049 yards last season. If Notre Dame can’t stop the run, it won’t matter how good its pass rush and secondary is.

Connelly’s numbers rate Georgia as the No. 2 overall team in the S&P+. His actual preview on Georgia will arrive later this summer.

Notre Dame isn’t the team that was crushed by Alabama back in the 2012-13 national championship game. And it’s worth pointing out that it lost by a smaller margin to Clemson last season than Alabama did.

But it’s also worth mentioning now that this game — which has and will be advertised as one of the best games of the season — may not end up living up to the hype. Given the talent gap, there’s a chance when these two teams meet this game is a blowout, and not a replay of the 20-19 thriller from 2017.

Major 5-star target Kendall Milton teases upcoming announcement

Georgia landed one of its top targets in the 2020 recruiting cycle on Monday when 4-star offensive tackle Tate Ratledge committed to the Bulldogs. The addition was met with a lot of fanfare. Shortly after Ratledge’s announcement, many wondered what would be next for the Bulldogs.

Well, it looks like we got an answer to that on Tuesday. Running back Kendall Milton, the nation’s No. 3 running back and arguably Georgia’s top 2020 target at the position, tweeted that he would be announcing his top schools this coming Friday. Look for the Bulldogs to be in that mix.

Milton, who is from Clovis, Calif., visited Georgia for G-Day. And he came away from the visit very impressed with what the Bulldogs have to offer.

“If we are specifically just talking about Georgia in this conversation, I think they did a good job,” Chris Milton, Kendall’s father, told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell. “They [Georgia] did 100 percent a good job in displaying consistently but again so have other programs. I definitely don’t want to take away or discount anything any other program has done but speaking specifically about Georgia they absolutely did a great job.”

Georgia will need at least one running back in the 2020 class and probably two, given Georgia will definitely be losing Brian Herrien and possibly D’Andre Swift — eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft — as well.

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