Notre Dame Football Predictions: Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame


Georgia Tech travels to South Bend to face to Notre Dame on Saturday

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their powerful triple option offense will swarm to South Bend on Saturday to challenge the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a battle of top-15 opponents. Georgia Tech looks to continue to bowl over the opposition with its vaunted rushing attack and pick up a big victory over a top-10 non-conference opponent, while the Irish hope to prove themselves against a strong adversary and gain some much-needed momentum and confidence by beating a Yellow Jacket team that’s favored to beat them in their own stadium.

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Georgia Tech enters the contest ranked 14th in the AP Poll with a 2-0 record. Yet to be challenged in their first two games (Alcorn State and Tulane), Tech comes to Notre Dame Stadium averaging 562 yards per game, with a nation-leading 457.5 yards of that average coming on the ground. They’ve scored 69 and 65 points in their two victories, so the Irish will certainly have their hands full, especially considering their struggles in recent years with Navy and Air Force’s triple option offenses.

Sep 12, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas (5) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Tulane Green Wave in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Yellow Jacket QB Justin Thomas is the ideal triple option quarterback, a speedy 5-11 junior who facilitates an incredible rushing attack that has already seen 10 different Tech players score rushing touchdowns. Jaylon Smith and Co. will have their hands full bottling the Georgia Tech backfield up, but should be able to sell out a bit to stop the run, as the Yellow Jackets have thrown just 15 passes so far this season. Thomas is generally a capable passer (10/13 for 151 yards and 3 TD), but remains a typical triple option quarterback who’s much better suited to try to beat defenses with his legs than with his arm.

The biggest story for Notre Dame entering this game lies on the offensive side of the ball, as this will be sophomore QB DeShone Kizer’s first start of his career, filling in for junior Malik Zaire, who was lost for the season against Virginia due to a fractured ankle. As everyone likely already knows, Kizer stepped up in relief in that game, tossing the game-winning 39-yard touchdown to junior WR Will Fuller with 12 seconds remaining. Kizer will need to play just as poised against Georgia Tech, whose defense, although largely untested, is 7th in the country in scoring (8.0 PPG allowed) and 25th in total defense (260 YPG allowed).

Brian Kelly is 15-1 when starting freshman quarterbacks (Kizer is essentially a redshirt freshman, although Notre Dame does not like to use that terminology), so look for him to simplify the offense a bit and focus on running the ball and owning time of possession against a Yellow Jacket team that will want to wear the Irish down with the triple option whenever they have possession of the ball.

Kelly will likely lean on senior RB C.J. Prosise and freshman RB Josh Adams to carry the offensive load and get Notre Dame out in front early, using the offensive line’s strengths to Notre Dame’s advantage. Working in some short and easy passes early on to give Kizer more confidence, don’t be surprised to then see Kelly open up the play-action passing game at some point, unleashing Fuller for another long touchdown or two.

Ultimately, this game will come down to whether Notre Dame can contain Georgia Tech’s scary rushing attack, and whether DeShone Kizer can continue to lead the offense with confidence and mistake-free play. I expect Notre Dame to get ahead early and attempt to own time-of-possession, forcing Tech to play from behind with limited opportunities to score. VanGorder’s troops struggled against Virginia, so it certainly won’t be an easy task to stop Georgia Tech’s offense, but I think the Fighting Irish just edge out the Yellow Jackets in a close game that instills confidence in a young quarterback and in a defense that has been much-maligned for its play last week.

Editor Andrew HallNotre Dame 31, Georgia Tech 27
Staff Writer Manuel De JesusNotre Dame 38, Georgia Tech 35
Staff Writer Chase EyrichNotre Dame 37, Georgia Tech 30
Staff Writer Chris ClarkeNotre Dame 38, Georgia Tech 35
Staff Writer Nick CombsNotre Dame 31 , Georgia Tech 28
Staff Writer Walt KosinNotre Dame 24, Georgia Tech 20
Staff Writer Pat SullivanNotre Dame 34, Georgia Tech 28