ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart put a dominating 55-0 win in perspective, and then casually addressed the biggest home game in recent memory.
RECAP: How Georgia beat Arkansas State, injuries and news from game
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) will collide with No 7-ranked Notre Dame (2-0) at 8 p.m. next Saturday in a game that will draw ESPN’s popular GameDay crew along with a monster CBS television audience.
“As far as the stage, the biggest thing we can do is let the players relax and play,” Smart said following Georgia’s dominating win over Arkansas State on Saturday.
“The team that makes the fewest mistakes will usually win that game. The team that overanalyzes it, hypes it up and makes it bigger than it larger than life, sometimes that gets you in trouble.”
Smart knows all about the dialing down the emphasis on one game, having spent most of the offseason fending off questions about a so-called “Alabama hump.” The Tide, of course, came from two scores back to beat Georgia in the 2017 CFP title game and the 2018 SEC Championship Game.
Of course, it was Smart and the Bulldogs that came from behind to beat Notre Dame in South Bend in 2017, Jake Fromm’s first start at quarterback.
“We’ve played in a lot of big games, we’ve got a lot of kids in that team room that have played in big football games,” Smart said, “so they’re not going to be intimidated by that.
“But Notre Dame is a very good football program, they have a very good football program, they have a very good team, they have a very good coaching staff that does a tremendous job. They were one of the top four teams in the country last year.”
Smart felt Georgia was one of the top four teams, too, which makes it pretty clear the Bulldogs’ head coach ultimately felt a one-loss Oklahoma team deserved to be out.
But that was then and this is now, and next Saturday’s game will likely have College Football Playoff implications, both Smart and Irish coach Brian Kelly confident that have national championship caliber talent this season.
Next opponent Notre Dame believes it’s national champion material
Smart said he knows the Irish’s style of play from two seasons ago, but he hasn’t studied them closely enough this season to make a judgment on their speed and line play.
“I haven’t watched Noter Dame,” Smart said. “I didn’t watch them last year because we didn’t play them, and I haven’t seen them yet, so that would be a hard question for me to answer.
“They recruit the same players we do, so when we go knocking on doors, we’re going after the same guys, so they have a really good football program.”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart