SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Consider this the travel log entry for the week. I’m going to tell you a little about where to go and what to do here, share some pictures, then provide one more little glimpse of the team Georgia will face on Saturday. It’s Notre Dame, by the way.
So the weather, it’s great here. I think that’s what I like best so far. We’ve been dodging a little rain here and there but, for the most part it has been overcast, breezy and cool. Well, relatively speaking. It was 54 and blowing pretty good when I went for a jog this morning. Felt great. It’s 59 here at the end of the afternoon as I write this. In the 40s at night. It’s supposed to remain that way they next day or two, then it’s expected to clear out with clear, sunny skies and slightly warmer temps for the weekend. Picture perfect.
I’m finally starting to see a few Georgia fans. Not a lot yet. The majority of the DawgNation is migrating into Chicago, 2½ hours west of here, and I understand from a few folks over that way that it’s picking up considerably. Most fans I’ve talked to are arriving in Chi-town tomorrow.
The Bulldogs, the team is, won’t get here until Friday. Well, they’re actually not staying here. They’re staying over in Michigan City, Ind. My Google map directions tell me that’s about 41 miles and 52 minutes away via I-90.
Georgia is staying there at the Blue Chip Casino & Resort. That’s right, a casino. Actually, it’s not all that unusual, I’m told. Several of Notre Dame’s opponents stay there or at some of the other casino properties on Lake Michigan, including Southern Cal every time it comes here. I would imagine there’s no reason to think Nick Chubb will be up all night at the craps table.
So my movement has been limited mostly to the highway between Mishawaka, where I’m staying, and the Notre Dame campus about six miles away. So far at least the traffic hasn’t been bad at all. Generally South Bend is a pretty small town. It’s about the size of Athens, around 100,000 people not including the students at Notre Dame. But actually Notre Dame has a pretty small enrollment (8,462), certainly compared to UGA (36,574). They’re both very good schools. Notre Dame is private, of course.
Where to go? It depends on when you arrive in South Bend. It’s pretty much all about the game here and most of the activities surround the pomp and circumstance that is Notre Dame football. Friday afternoons on campus are basically a big pep rally, with trumpets playing at one time and drummers playing at another time. I wouldn’t think most Georgia fans would be interested but I think you might need tickets.
There is a tailgating scene on campus, but I understand it to be very restricted and organized. That’s why so many of those Georgia fans in Chicago are booking these bus trips where they provide a tailgate space and amenities for you. Don’t bother looking if you haven’t already made arrangements.
The most famous place for drinking beer here is the “Linebacker Lounge,” which is actually called the Linebacker Inn. It’s located just down and across the street from the athletics area of campus and serves cold beer and bar food. Kelly’s, McCormick’s and McKinley’s — and pretty much any pub with a “mac” in front of it — always are a good idea.
The best place to hang out is the Eddy Street Commons area. There are tons of bars and restaurants and shops in that little entertainment district on North Eddy Street. It’s less than a mile from the stadium and it’s probably where you Bulldogs will find most of your brethren the night before the game.
One of the best places to eat in my opinion, just slightly off the beaten path, is Rocco’s Original Pizza. It’s a locally owned Italian joint, the food is awesome and it’s the kind of place where you’ll find pictures on the wall of every celebrity who has ever been through here, including all the Notre Dame head coaches.
So that’s just a quick rundown. It’s a beautiful campus and a storied place will cool things to look at all over the place. If you’re into sightseeing you’ll have to check out the Grotto and the Basilica and, of course, Touchdown Jesus. I’ve already paid homage so y’all can have at it.
As for Notre Dame the team, I’ve got to admit, they’re a pretty impressive looking bunch. Of course, my view might be a little skewed, having just met 6-foot-8, 315-pound All-America tackle Mike McGlinchey. Amazing that the senior is still here, considering he probably could’ve made a pretty good mint turning pro last season.
They definitely are giving Georgia full respect and have their full attention. McGlinchey has been here four years and has played all kinds of big games in that time, but he said he’s particularly excited about Saturday’s matchup and has had it “circled in red” since the schedule came out.
The matchup of that line with the Bulldogs’ defensive front is going to be a good one. I do think Georgia is built to defend their dynamic dual-threat quarterback, Brandon Wimbush. And I think their defense can be had, to an extent. But the Dogs aren’t going to be able to just line up and bulldoze them. They’ll have to let the young freshman cut the ball loose a little. That should be interesting.
So that’s it for now. Much more coming your way. See y’all when you get here.