SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It’s finally here. The long-awaited, and about to be much-attended, showdown between Georgia and Notre Dame kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET. As kickoff approaches, news, notes and observations from historic Notre Dame Stadium:
7:25 p.m.: Final notes
Aaron Davis was going with the first team at cornerback. That would be very good news for the Bulldogs, who need to hold Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown in check, if for no other reason that I don’t have to keep writing that name.
Dyshon Sims was working with the first team at right guard, with Solomon Kindley at second team. That’s a flip-flop from this week in practice, so Kindley’s ankle may not be 100 percent yet.
Crowd-wise, my guess is that Notre Dame has a few more fans, but at most about a 60-40 split. Georgia fans are dominating one corner and there is red almost everywhere else in the stadium.
7:00 p.m.: Defensive backs
Freshman Mark Webb is indeed working out with the defensive backs.
Senior Aaron Davis, who’s been dealing with a hamstring injury, is also running and cutting and doing everything early. We’ll see if he is out there when they run first-team drills.
6:45 p.m.: Crowd update
No picture yet, but just trust me when I say that there is a lot of red in the stands. It’s mainly in the corner closest to the press box, but there’s also red in other areas.
We shall see when it fills in completely. But right now it’s at least split evenly. Probably more red. And there was a big roar just now when the Bulldogs ran onto the field for warm-ups.
6:35 p.m.: Travel roster notes
Georgia has 84 players on its travel roster. That’s 14 more spots than for a regular SEC road game. So that means a few guys that won’t play – such as Jacob Eason – can be on the trip. A few other notes:
- Stetson Bennett is the only walk-on quarterback who’s on the trip. So he’s the third QB behind Jake Fromm and Brice Ramsey.
- Among the freshmen offensive linemen, tackle Isaiah Wilson is here, after not playing last week. So is guard Justin Shaffer, who did play last week. But guard Netori Johnson is not here, and didn’t play last week.
- Tackle D’Marcus Hayes, the junior college transfer who didn’t play last week, is also absent.
- Punter Marshall Long is here, so he presumably is the backup to starter Cam Nizialek.
- Freshman receiver Matt Landers is not on the trip. Kirby Smart said earlier in the week that the 6-5 Landers was on the scout team giving the defense a good look imitating some of Notre Dame’s tall receiver.
- Also not here: DB Latavious Brini, OLB Jaleel Laguins, TE Jordan Davis.
6:25 p.m.: Position switch?
Here’s a potential wrinkle: Freshman Mark Webb, a receiver when he was recruited and until we last heard, is listed as a defensive back on Georgia’s travel roster – as well as the roster provided earlier to the media. Webb is also listed at a different jersey number: 23, after wearing 81 last week.
The team isn’t out there practicing fully, so we don’t have 100 percent confirmation that’s happening. We’ll see soon, hopefully.
If it’s true, it’s a curious move, as Webb had been getting a lot of good buzz in preseason camp. It may say something about how the team feels about its depth at defensive back. And we’ll see what it says about Aaron Davis’ availability.
5:51 p.m.: Jacob Eason is in the house
DawgNation has confirmed that Jacob Eason did make the trip to South Bend and has accompanied the team to the stadium.
5:22 p.m.: Bulldogs – and Jacob Eason – on the way to stadium
Kirby Smart said earlier in the week that quarterback Jacob Eason may make the trip despite his injury. And at least one person has spotted the sophomore on the trip, albeit on crutches.
There is no 70-man limit for the travel roster, as there is for SEC games, so Georgia can basically take as many people as can fit on the plane. Or planes. And Eason’s injury apparently is not considered serious that he can’t come and be with the team.
We’re also told that Georgia was a bit late leaving its hotel. Notre Dame players are now getting on the field here at 5:21 p.m., while the Bulldogs are still about 15-20 minutes away. Not sure that’s a big deal, though.
3:45 p.m.: DawgNation Invasion update
There’s part of me that wonders if it’s futile to write a story about what’s going on here, because it seems all of you are here.
A football game will be played here, and it may be exciting, but right now the main story is the turnout of Georgia fans. It was evident last night at Wrigley Field, where a “U-G-A” chant reverberated, and it’s the case here in South Bend too.
“You guys are everywhere,” the supervisor at an Alamo Rental Car at O’Hare Airport said.
He said he saw numerous Bulldogs fans pulling Georgia flags out of their suitcases and placing them on their rental cars.
When yours truly was riding the L train to the Cubs game on Friday night, my cab had just as many red-clad Georgia fans as blue-clad Cubs fans. And while it’s not quite an even split here at the tailgating scene, Georgia fans are still all over the place, taking pictures at Touchdown Jesus, milling around campus and dominating some dining establishments.
Now the question is how that translates to the fan split inside the stadium on Saturday night. The standard is Nebraska’s turnout here 17 years ago — Sept. 9, 2000, when Nebraska fans made this stadium a sea of red, or red sea, as the game came to be known. Those red-clad fans cheered their team on to a 27-24 win in overtime.
Georgia fans may be here in force this year, but how many get in? There are many stories we’ve heard and overheard of fans who have come without tickets, either hoping to get some or just content to tailgate if they don’t. And we’re also still following stories of fans who think they bought tickets, but can’t be sure until they get here.
The capacity at Notre Dame Stadium is between 78,000 and 79,000 — the exact figure isn’t certain because it was just renovated. So if Georgia has one-third of the crowd, it would have just over 25,000 in here.
It’s hard to say for sure, but based on how many seemed to be at Wrigley Field on Friday night, and how many were in South Bend already by that time, the 25,000 figure seems easy to hit, and exceed.
So again, it remains a matter of how many end up getting inside here.