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Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the Irish had no chance if they couldn't stop the run.

WATCH Brian Kelly: ‘Physicality was real’ in 23-17 loss to Georgia

ATHENS — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will remember Saturday night’s classic at Georgia as one of the most physical games he has personally witnessed.

“You could hear it out there, the physicality was real,” Kelly said. “It was probably one of the most physical games that I have coached, against any team that I have competed against, and that’s a lot of games that I’ve coached.”

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs held off Kelly’s No. 7-ranked Fighting Irish, 23-17, before a record crowd of 93,246 at Sanford Stadium.

Notre Dame outplayed Georgia in the first half, taking a 10-7 lead into intermission before the Bulldogs’ depth took its toll.

“Up front, we’re trying to match (personnel), and trying to figure out what’s going to come on the field,” Kelly said, “and it’s 3-down (linemen) and it’s 4-down and it’s different personnel groupings. It’s more depth than we’ve seen.”

The Bulldogs’ offensive line took its toll as well. Georgia rushed for 97 of its 152 yards on the ground in the second half.

The Bulldogs, however, were unable to break a run longer than 16 yards against a Notre Dame defense that entered the night 120th in the nation against the run.

“We kind of knew what we had and what we needed to do in this game,” Kelly said. “If you give Georgia the opportunity to run the football, you have no  chance to win the game.

“The game plan was set that they were going to have some one-on-one shots on the perimeter, but the extra hat was going to be committed to the run. And they hit some one-on-one shots on the perimeter, but we had to be effective against the run, or we had no chance.”

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly