News of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence testing positive for COVID-19, which will force him to miss this Saturday’s Boston College game and perhaps the Nov. 7 showdown at Notre Dame, has somewhat overshadowed this week’s Fighting Irish battle at 2-4 and reeling Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
Virtually every week this season, 5-0 and No. 4-ranked Notre Dame has faced an opponent that has been spiraling downward, and that pattern continues in Atlanta this weekend. Georgia Tech was rocked by Lawrence’s Tigers 73-7 on Oct. 17, and last week endured a 48-27 whipping at Boston College, which has a first-year head coach.
Notre Dame’s first five opponents are a combined 9-22, and now Georgia Tech is a 19.5-point underdog. The Fighting Irish are allowing only 9.8 points per game compared to the Yellow Jackets’ 41.2, so there is a significant disparity in defensive prowess.
Notre Dame is 16-0 all time in games played on Halloween, and on Saturday it should come away with more treats than tricks.
TODD BURLAGE, STAFF COLUMNIST
Notre Dame 40, Georgia Tech 17
Irish head coach Brian Kelly is not only an ungracious host with a 22-game winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium, but he’s also become an unwelcome guest inside ACC road venues. Kelly is 8-1 on the road in the ACC since 2017, winning those eight games by an average of 28.1 points.
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins is in his second year working to install a more conventional pro-style/spread offense after the Yellow Jackets spent 11 seasons running the triple-option under former head coach Paul Johnson (2008-18). That transition might not begin to take greater hold until next year.
PATRICK ENGEL, BEAT REPORTER/ANALYST
Notre Dame 42, Georgia Tech 14
The Yellow Jackets are outplaying their preseason predicted standing as the ACC’s cellar dweller. They won’t finish in last (15th) place. That said, they’re not going to hang with Notre Dame for long. This game falls in a traditional trap game slot the week before the season’s marquee opponent visits, but that shouldn’t get in the way of another dominant day on the ground by the Irish.
Georgia Tech has allowed 12 runs of 20-plus yards, which is better than only eight Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Notre Dame should find space and explosive plays and put this one away fairly early. A turnover-prone offense with a freshman quarterback will do well to score more than twice on Notre Dame’s defense.
ANDREW MENTOCK, STAFF WRITER
Notre Dame 56, Georgia Tech 13
The Notre Dame offense comes out swinging against Georgia Tech and pulls away early. This allows the coaching staff to go deep into the depth chart on both sides of the ball, similar to last week at Pitt, when the Irish were up 28-3 by halftime and had the starting offense out by the end of the third quarter.
The first-string Notre Dame defense gives up two field goals but the second-string offense turnovers the ball late in the game, which leads to the Yellow Jackets’ lone touchdown of the game.
MIKE SINGER, RECRUITING INSIDER
Notre Dame 45, Georgia Tech 10
My original score prediction for this game that went in our last edition of Blue & Gold Illustrated was 38-10, but after seeing Notre Dame’s destruction of Pittsburgh, I tacked on another touchdown. Then again, maybe because everyone is expecting a blowout win, it will be closer than the pundits think.
Geoff Collins is a tireless recruiter — an impressive No. 25 rating his first full cycle at the school — and I believe he will get things turned around in Atlanta in time. However, on Saturday against Notre Dame, it won’t be a step in the right direction. The only thing stopping Notre Dame from cruising in this one is itself.
LOU SOMOGYI, SENIOR EDITOR
Notre Dame 35, Georgia Tech 9
I had this one 35-13 in the print edition. However, because in the podcast I am required to give a “bold prediction,” mine was that for the first time since 2012 the Irish defense will hold an opponent to single digits a third straight week following the 12-7 victory versus Louisville on Oct. 17 and the 45-3 demolition of Pitt last week.
The Yellow Jackets do possess a more competent running game than the Panthers, especially with dual-threat freshman quarterback Jeff Sims, but not quite the individual and veteran fire power that Louisville had. Particularly keeping them down is turnovers, with their 18 (three per game), the second most in the country. Meanwhile, the Irish have only three, and none in the last two games, which means they might be due for one or two that will prevent them from reaching the 40-point mark.
Mathematical transitive properties do not carry over into athletics. Otherwise, one could infer that Georgia Tech is 14 points better than Notre Dame because the Yellow Jackets whipped Louisville by 19 (46-27) the week before the Irish defeated the Cardinals only by five.
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