1 – Win the Battle in the Trenches
The team that wins up front, the side with superior physicality is the very likely victor Saturday night. Getting that push up front offensively and penetration defensively is at the top of Kirby Smart’s “to-do” list for his troops. This will be one of the biggest tests Georgia’s acclaimed offensive line will receive this season, while the Bulldogs defensive front faces a major challenge. Two years ago, it was Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter who came around the edge and forced the two critical fumbles in the Dogs 20-19 win in South Bend. Creating those “havoc” plays defensively, and preventing them offensively is a must for Georgia.
2 – Bottle up Book
Notre Dame’s quarterback Ian Book is outstanding. When he took over under center early last season, the Fighting Irish offense took off. This was the missing ingredient that a fine Notre Dame football team needed to make the push to the playoffs. Notre Dame likes to get physical with the run game and have Book utilize play-action. He has an excellent arm with touch, and he can really move. If he’s able to avoid the sack, and break free, there’s trouble. The Bulldogs must contain Book.
3 – Big Guns Deliver
You gotta have your guys be guys, especially in games like this. So for Jake Fromm, Andrew Thomas, D’Andre Swift, Rodrigo Blankenship, J.R. Reed and all the Bulldog standouts, this is a night to shine. Legacies are made on nights like this. Think back again to two years ago, it was Fromm’s first start, he had the big completion to Javon Wims to set up the go ahead field goal made by Blankenship. There was Bellamy, Carter, Reed and Roquan Smith delivering defensively. The big players making the big plays in the big moments, that’s how these games are won.
4 – Sound Special Teams
Make the kicks, protect the kickers, protect the football and avoid penalties. Those are boxes to check every Saturday. It’s paramount to success Saturday night, and it sure would be nice if the Bulldogs could come up with a big play on special teams. In South Bend in 2017, Elijah Holyfield had a long kickoff return inside the Irish five yard line negated by a penalty. And remember, after replay awarded Terry Godwin a touchdown, replay then took away an Irish kickoff return for a touchdown when the Notre Dame runner was clearly down. Prior to replay, it would have been 17-6 Irish, instead of 10-10. Big plays in the kicking game can make all the difference.
5 – Bring the Fire
Sanford Stadium and Dooley Field will be rocking with one of the most highly anticipated games ever between the hedges. The odds are pretty good that this will be the only time college football’s ultimate Blue Bloods, the Blue and Gold will visit Athens in the lifetime of many of the over 90,000 in their seats. Bulldogs legend and radio star Kevin Butler calls it a “controlled fury.” Play with passion, play with fire, but play smart. And that 12th man, this is a grand stage for college football’s greatest fan base to bark extra loud.