SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s senior class has lost one home game in its four years, about to become the second class in a row to make that claim. That is, if the No. 8 Irish (9-1) can get by Georgia Tech (3-7) this afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets are in the midst of a struggling stretch, on a four-game losing streak and about to face back-to-back top-10 teams in Notre Dame and No. 1 Georgia. They have little to fret about in any regard at this point, which makes Irish head coach Brian Kelly fear Georgia Tech all that much more.
“This is a classic team that if you do not pay them the due respect and you do not play well against them, they will beat you,” Kelly said Monday. “… As a head coach, these are the games that you feel a little bit uneasy about because your opponent has nothing really to worry about going into the game other than just taking a free swing and playing without anything to worry about.”
TIME, TV: 2:30 ET on NBC. The game will also be streamed on Peacock.
When the broadcast begins at 2:30 ET, it will jump right into Notre Dame’s Senior Day ceremonies, each of the dozens of seniors being individually recognized before the game. Typically, the captains trot out last, setting up the final five names to be, in some order, fifth-year defensive linemen Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year linebacker Drew White, fifth-year receiver Avery Davis and senior center Jarrett Patterson. Guessing who immediately precedes them, perhaps the player caught by the beginning of the NBC broadcast, is a curious parlor game.
“It’s crazy how quick it’s gone,” Coan said Tuesday. “It’s going to be emotional, but (I’ll) do my best to rein back those emotions and just focus on the game.”
Coan’s and Madden’s may not be the traditional Notre Dame careers, but they played key roles in the Irish reaching double-digit wins for a fifth straight season, nonetheless. And yes, that is presuming Notre Dame notches that 10th win today.
PREVIEW: When Kelly said Georgia Tech is owed “due respect,” he had just been praising sophomore running back Jahmyr Gibbs and sophomore quarterback Jeff Sims. The two represent the best skill players Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins has pulled in during his three years in Atlanta, the kind of recruits needed to rise from the depths of a triple-option offense.
Sims has been banged up of late, missing last week, so he may not take the field today, but it is more likely Notre Dame has to worry about the dual-threat quarterback throwing for 7.8 yards per attempt this season as well as his backfield counterpart averaging 116.1 yards from scrimmage per game.
But that duo has not been enough to keep the Wreck ahead of its opponents, outscored by 1.4 points per game and outgained by 47.1 yards per game.
PREDICTION: As much as Notre Dame’s 2016 faceplant is well remembered, so is its 2017 November. The Irish lost two of their final three that year, including their last loss as a favorite, the season-ending trip to Stanford.
Those follies forced Notre Dame to double down on depth and conditioning. Since then, the Irish have gone 11-2-1 against the spread in November, covering in the last nine. This is not intended as a gambling focus so much as it is evidence that Notre Dame found better solutions to ending the season as the roster wears down, exceeding all expectations even in games it is presumed to win. This year, that roster attrition has even included a bout of flu carrying through the Irish locker room the last two weeks.
PointsBet sets Notre Dame as a 17.5-point favorite, as of Saturday morning, with a combined points total Over/Under of 58. A 38-21 result might seem reasonable, but it overlooks the continued development of the Irish defense, which has not given up a touchdown in the last two weeks and has held its last four opponents below their season scoring averages by 15 points per game.
Georgia Tech averages 28.8 points per game. Knocking that down below two touchdowns would better fit Notre Dame’s current form, while also reducing the need for the Irish offense to greatly exceed its own average of 32.3 points per game.
Notre Dame 31, Georgia Tech 10.
(Straight up — 9-1; Against the spread — 8-2; Over/under — 7-3.)
It's not my fault I've gone 3-0 in these videos.
It's @PointsBetUSA's fault.
Anyway, look for #NotreDame to cover its 10th straight November game tomorrow against Georgia Tech. pic.twitter.com/ZjmTLLqySK
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) November 19, 2021
INSIDE THE IRISH
— Lack of Playoff worry has Notre Dame in position to worry about the Playoff
— And In That Corner … Georgia Tech heads to Notre Dame beaten up and on a four-game losing streak
— Pair of game-winners steady Doerer in uneven final season at Notre Dame
— Things To Learn: More about what Notre Dame’s seniors have already taught
— Kurt Hinish humor, tone-setting approach part of record-setting legacy
— Kurt Hinish will end his record-setting Notre Dame career with same relentless effort
— More than a Rental: Jack Coan’s Season in South Bend
— College Football Hot Seat Watch: What’s next for Billy Napier and the latest at Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida
— Coaching Carousel Notebook: Is this the year Billy Napier makes his move?
— Streaming, schedules and noon kickoffs
— The 2001 Miami Hurricanes are one of college football’s greatest teams ever
— Tyler James (@TJamesNDI) November 19, 2021