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Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Georgia Bulldogs
Venue/Location:Sanford Stadium, Athens, GANotre Dame (2-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread) hits the road in Week 4 to take on Georgia between the hedges in Athens at Sanford Stadium. It is the first time the Fighting Irish have faced an SEC team ranked in the top five since losing at Tennessee in 1999.
Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 21, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Georgia -14.5, Total 58
As of Friday afternoon, most books had Georgia (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) installed as a 14.5-point home favorite with a total of 57.5. The Fighting Irish have +500 money-line odds.
Kirby Smart’s club has won 15 home games in a row since dropping a 28-27 decision to Ga. Tech in the 2016 regular-season finale. It is the third-longest home winning streak in program history. The Bulldogs are 8-7 ATS in those 15 home victories.
UGA opened the season with a 30-6 win at Vanderbilt as a 22-point road favorite. The 36 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 56.5-point total. The Bulldogs enjoyed a 481-225 advantage in total offense over the Commodores, who went 3-of-14 on third-down opportunities.
D’Andre Swift produced 149 rushing yards on 16 attempts, while junior quarterback Jake Fromm threw for 156 yards and one touchdown without an interception.
In Week 2, Georgia captured a 63-17 win over Murray State, but it failed to cover the number as a 49-point home ‘chalk.’ The 80 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 61.5-point total when Stetson Bennett hit Demetris Robertson on a 15-yard TD pass with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
Fromm had a short day at the office against the Racers. He connected on 10-of-11 throws for 166 yards and one TD without an interception. Zamir White, the redshirt freshman RB who was a five-star recruit in UGA’s 2018 class but missed all of 2019 after tearing his ACL last August, ran for 72 yards and one TD on eight carries. Swift added 67 rushing yards and two TDs on six totes.
UGA crushed Arkansas State 55-0 as a 32.5-point home favorite last week. The 55 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 58.5-point total.
Fromm hit 17-of-22 passes for 279 yards and three TDs without an interception. Swift turned nine carries into 76 rushing yards, in addition to catching two balls for 64 yards and one TD.
For the season, Fromm has completed 75.0 percent of his passes for 601 yards and five TDs without an interception. True freshman WR George Pickens has been his favorite target. Pickens has hauled in nine receptions for 162 yards and one TD. Another true freshman WR, Dominick Blaylock, has seven catches for 160 yards and two TDs.
Swift has 292 rushing yards, two TDs and a 9.4 yards-per-carry average on 31 attempts. White has run for 141 yards and two TDs on 19 carries for a 7.4 YPC average.
UGA is ranked 10th in the nation in total defense, fifth against the run and third in scoring ‘D’ (7.7 PPG).
Georgia is 8-5 ATS in its 13 games as a home favorite during Kirby Smart’s four-year tenure. The Bulldogs are 7-4-1 ATS in their past 12 games as double-digit favorites.
Notre Dame is in its first game as a road underdog since failing to cover the number in a 45-27 loss at Southern Cal as a 17.5-point underdog in the 2017 regular-season finale. The Fighting Irish are 8-6 ATS in 14 games as a road underdog on Brian Kelly’s watch since 2010. Kelly’s team is 3-3 ATS with one outright victory – 2012 at Oklahoma – in six games as a double-digit underdog during his tenure.
Notre Dame opened the season on a Monday at Louisville, winning a 35-17 decision. However, the Cardinals covered the spread as 19-point underdogs, while the 52 combined points went ‘under’ the 55-point tally.
Junior QB Ian Book completed 14-of-23 passes for 193 yards and one TD without an interception. Junior RB Tony Jones rushed for 110 yards and one TD on 15 carries, while Book ran 14 times for 81 yards and one TD. Jahmir Smith had a pair of touchdown runs for the Fighting Irish, who were fortunate to recover three Louisville fumbles.
After an open date in Week 2, Notre Dame smashed New Mexico by a 66-14 count as a 34.5-point favorite in last week’s home opener. Book threw for 360 yards and five TDs without an interception, in addition to rushing for 46 yards and one TD.
Book has connected on 61.7 percent of his passes for 553 yards with a 6/0 TD-INT ratio. He’s also run for a team-best 127 yards and two TDs with a 5.5 YPC average. Jones has 127 rushing yards, one TD and a 6.0 YPC average.
Senior WR Chase Claypool has team-highs in catches (nine) and receiving yards (190) with one TD grab. Junior WR Javon McKinley has three receptions for 96 yards and two TDs.
When these teams met in South Bend two seasons ago, Georgia fans packed Notre Dame Stadium with red and black colors. In Fromm’s first career start, UGA captured a 20-19 win as a 5.5-point road underdog thanks to a nasty, one-handed TD catch by Marquis Godwin in the corner of the end zone.
Sony Michel’s six-yard TD run with 4:34 left in the third quarter put the Bulldogs up 17-16. The Fighting Irish went back in front 19-17 on a short field goal early in the fourth quarter, but UGA answered with Rodrigo Blankenship’s 30-yarder with 3:34 remaining that proved to be the game winner.
Fromm completed 16-of-29 passes for 141 yards with one TD and one interception. Swift had 42 rushing yards on just a pair of carries.
Kickoff for Saturday’s showdown on CBS is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**Note: All spreads mentioned were as of late Friday afternoon.
-- South Carolina, a nine-point underdog at Missouri, has covered the spread in six straight games as a road underdog. The Gamecocks have also beaten Mizzou three straight times since Will Muschamp took over, including a 31-13 road victory two seasons ago. Muschamp’s bunch is an attractive +280 on the money line.
-- Muschamp scored big with the signing of Ryan Hilinski. The dude is the real deal. Look for him to have a big game at Mizzou.
-- Stanford, a 10.5-point home underdog vs. Oregon, has lost by double-digit margins in back-to-back weeks. The Cardinal is a home underdog for just the fifth time during David Shaw’s nine-year tenure. They have won outright in each previous instance as a home ‘dog. To be clear, this is not an endorsement.
-- Northwestern, a nine-point home underdog vs. Michigan State, is 4-0-1 ATS in its last five games as a home ‘dog. During Pat Fitzgerald’s 14-year run at his alma mater, the Wildcats are 31-22-1 ATS with 19 outright wins in 54 games as underdogs of seven points or more.
-- Colorado State QB Collin Hill is out for the rest of the 2019 season after tearing his ACL in last week’s loss at Arkansas. It is the third time Hill has torn the same ACL during his collegiate career. Hill had completed 69-of-102 passes (67.6%) for 840 yards with an 8/2 TD-INT ratio.
-- Illinois is a 13.5-point home underdog vs. Nebraska for an 8:00 p.m. Eastern kick on the Big Ten Network. In 14 games as a home underdog on Lovie Smith’s watch, the Illini is 4-10 versus the number. We’ll nonetheless note that Illinois QB Brandon Peters is playing well. The transfer from Michigan has a 9/2 TD-INT ratio for Illinois, which saw its record fall to 2-1 when it lost at home to Eastern Michigan (34-31) on a walk-off field goal.
-- Florida State, a 6.5-point home ‘chalk’ vs. Louisville, is 2-4 ATS as home favorite since Willie Taggart arrived. Look for Doak Campbell Stadium to have tens of thousands of empty seats for the Cardinals trip to Tallahassee. U of L’s QB Jawon Pass remains ‘questionable,’ but back-up QB Malik Cunningham was sharp in last week’s 38-21 win over Western Kentucky. Cunningham threw a pair of TD passes without an interception. U of L first-year head coach Scott Satterfield compiled a 19-11-1 ATS mark in 31 road games during his time at Appalachian State.
-- I’m a big fan of LSU -7 in the first quarter at Vanderbilt. It’s a noon Eastern kick in Nashville.
-- Kentucky is 8-4 ATS in 12 games as a road underdog since 2016. The Wildcats are six-point road ‘dogs at Mississippi State. Joe Moorhead has yet to name a starting QB. Tommy Stevens remains ‘questionable’ after leaving last Saturday’s 31-24 home loss to Kansas State with a shoulder injury. Keytaon Thompson reportedly wasn’t available last week due to an upper-body injury, but he might be ready for UK. If not and Stevens can’t go, it’ll probably be true freshman Garrett Shrader in his first career start. Shrader showed a lot of promise and athleticism last week, but he made several freshman mistakes. Both teams are in bounce-back mode after UK dropped a heartbreaker to Florida, which outscored the ‘Cats 19-0 in the fourth quarter of a 29-21 comeback victory.
-- BYU is a 6.5-point home underdog vs. Washington. The Cougars are 1-4-1 ATS as home ‘dogs under Kalani Sitake, getting its first such spread cover in last week’s 30-27 overtime win over Southern Cal in Provo.
-- Troy RB B.J. Smith was lost to a season-ending knee injury in last week’s 47-42 home loss to Southern Miss. Smith ran for 1,186 yards and 13 TDs last year to earn first-team All-Sun-Belt honors. The Trojans are 17.5-point road favorites at Akron. The Zips are 0-3 ATS.
-- Rice QB Wiley Green has been upgraded to ‘probable’ vs. Baylor.
-- Rutgers will host Boston College as an eight-point home underdog. RU starting QB McLane Carter, a transfer from Texas Tech, has been downgraded to ‘doubtful’ due to a concussion. Chris Ash has named true sophomore QB Artur Sitkowski as the starter against the Eagles, who are looking to respond after an embarrassing 48-24 loss to Kansas last Friday as a 20-point home ‘chalk.’ Sitkowski has a 4/19 career TD-INT ratio. Yikes!
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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