The guys at Chapel Bell Curve were gracious enough to invite me on to a podcast last night. One of the things we discussed was the context of where the Notre Dame game fits in the history of big games between the hedges, at least the ones we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing directly.
For me, one of the striking things about Saturday night’s match is that when I think of big games in Athens, I usually view them in advance as being perched on a knife’s edge — sometimes the Dawgs are favored, sometimes they come in as a bit of an underdog, but either way, I’m always nervous about the outcome — and for some reason, I don’t find myself feeling that way this week. I’m pretty calm about Georgia’s ability to prevail against Notre Dame.
Okay, for one specific reason, which I hit on yesterday: Georgia’s run game versus Notre Dame’s run defense. I don’t see Notre Dame’s path to victory if the Irish can’t restrict the Dawgs’ ground game and there’s nothing either team has done so far in 2019 to suggest they can.
DawgStats breaks some of that down here.
Notre Dame has played two games. New Mexico and Louisville. Opposing offenses have rushed the ball 93 times with a YPA of 4.9 and surrendered 4 rushing TDs. (Dawgs have yet to allow a rushing touchdown)
The Fighting Irish have, get this, allowed 331 yards AFTER CONTACT. This is a YAC/Att of 3.5. I mean, have you seen our RBs truck folks? Teams got 28 1stDowns on those 93 attempts.
If I filter for 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, and 3 WR), UGA’s base, ND Defense YPA goes to 5.7 and all 5 broken tackles surrendered.
If I filter with score differential of +/-7, ND is allowing 5.9 YPA, YAC/Att 4.3, and giving up 1stdowns on 33% of rushes.
Even if, for the sake of argument, you start with the position that in every other phase of the game the teams are relatively even, the disparity in the run game of each seems too big a hurdle for Notre Dame to overcome, barring my usual caveat regarding turnovers.
Throw on top of that my perception that Gary Danielson is correct in assessing that Georgia’s overall talent is deeper than Notre Dame’s and that’s how I find myself imbued with a weird lack of anxiety this week. Hell, I almost feel sheepish about it. What about you?