“Man, is that Georgia-Notre Dame game gonna be something!”
All summer long, UGA fans have come up to me and started talking about the Bulldogs’ first meeting with the Fighting Irish since way back on Jan. 1, 1981, when Vince Dooley’s unbeaten, untied football team toppled Notre Dame 17-10 in the New Orleans Superdome, thus delivering the school’s only consensus national championship to the starved Bulldawg Nation.
And, indeed, Georgia’s upcoming Sept. 9 battle against the Irish at Notre Dame’s Memorial Stadium should be very entertaining, what with this Bulldog edition being picked to make the SEC Championship game this December and Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish looking to upend the Dawgs and thereby taking a big stride toward making amends for last season’s dismal 4-8 finish.
But, thing is, you see the Georgia-Notre Dame collision IS Saturday week, not this Saturday. Prior to heading for South Bend, Ind. the 2017 Bulldogs must first deal with a pesky Appalachian State football team … a Mountaineer squad that in past years has ignored its heavy underdog status and put a whole bunch of scares into Power 5 opponents.
Of course, as you well know, exactly 10 years ago on Sept. 1, 2007, Appy State did more than scare a big-time opponent. It went to Ann Arbor, Mich. and stunned the Michigan Wolverines 34-32 in arguably the biggest upset in college football history, the Mountaineers being an FCS team at the time. And Appalachian State has played many other supposedly superior teams off their collective feet … including last season on opening day when the Mountaineers went to Knoxville and led Tennessee 13-3 at the half before eventually falling under to the Volunteers’ depth and barely losing the game in overtime, 20-13.
So, be assured, this is no cupcake team coming between the hedges Saturday night. Sun Belt Conference champs last season, the Mountaineers aren’t coming to Sanford Stadium for a moral victory. They’re coming to knock off the Georgia Bulldogs.
So you know Appalachian State is going to be pumped for this 6:15 p.m. kickoff on ESPN but let’s also be realistic here. The Bulldogs have superior talent to the Mountaineers at arguably every single position. And the only thing that could prevent Georgia from opening the new season with a “W” is the Bulldogs coming out flat and unmotivated against the team from Boone, N.C.
And if this Georgia team is unmotivated for the season’s first game, after a grueling spring practice and an even more grueling August preseason camp in sometimes 90-degree plus temps, well, all the Bulldog players and every member of the coaching staff need to take a good, long look in the mirror. Simply put, there should be no way Georgia won’t be ready to play come Saturday evening.
The game plan for this one should be simple: On defense, get after the Mountaineers and stymie tailback Jalin Moore and quarterback Taylor Lamb and offensively, pound the ball with Chubb and Michel and also get a big opening passing effort from Eason. Will Georgia do that? I say yes… make it Bulldogs 35, Mountaineers 17 and then, it’s on to that much-discussed Notre Dame confrontation!
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