Two of the most iconic and heralded college football programs of all time will meet on the gridiron this fall.
The Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sept. 9 in a week two showdown in South Bend. Looking on will be a national TV audience and a sellout crowd of 80,795 in Notre Dame Stadium.
The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. right behind the “Golden Dome” and in the land of the leprechauns. Both the Dogs and Irish will be nationally ranked. The college football world will be watching.
And why not?
These are two programs that parallel each other. Georgia has played in 52 bowl games over the years. The Dogs have had 68 All-Americans and two Heisman Trophy winners with Frank Sinkwich and Herschel Walker.
Georgia is the proud owner of 12 Southeastern Conference championships. The Dogs have won 794 football games over the decades.
Notre Dame is a football mad institution, too. The Irish have won 896 games, alltime. Notre Dame has produced seven Heisman Trophy winners and 97 All-Americans. The Irish have played in 35 bowl games.
Some of the winningest coaches of all time have called Notre Dame home, including Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz. The Dogs have had some pretty good sideline maestros over the years, too, with Wally Butts and Vince Dooley.
As for players, Georgia has had their share of Saturday afternoon heroes with Bill Stanfill, Jake Scott, Fran Tarkenton, Royce Smith, Champ Bailey, Charley Trippi, Walker and Sinkwich.
Notre Dame can counter with some stars of yesteryear as well with Paul Hornung, George Gipp, Leon Hart, Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack, Dave Casper and Joe Theismann.
The Irish and Dogs still have some soup in the pot and players on the field. Notre Dame, which is coming off a rare losing season (4-8), does have something to prove against Georgia.
Notre Dame will reload this year with a talented and fast offense led by junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush, junior tailback Josh Adams, senior tight end Nic Weishar (6-foot-4, 242 pounds) and three gamebreakers at wide receiver.
The Irish have some blazing quickness with junior split end Equanimeous St. Brown, junior pass catcher C.J. Sanders and sophomore speedster Kevin Stepherson.
Notre Dame also returns an improving defense with senior linebacker Nyles Morgan (6-foot-1, 238 pounds), junior linebacker Te’von Coney (6-foot-1, 235 pounds), and junior linemen Jonathon Bonner (6-foot-3, 284 pounds), Daniel Cage (6-foot-1, 329 pounds) and Andrew Trumbetti (6-foot-4, 252 pounds).
Senior safety Drue Tranquill is also back for the Fighting Irish. Georgia will take some horses to South Bend as well. The Dogs have a potentially prolific lineup on offense with sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason, senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, sophomore tight end Isaac Nauta (6-foot-4, 246 pounds), and junior wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie.
Junior wide receiver Terry Godwin brings some speed to the forefront as well for the Dogs. Godwin caught 37 passes for 394 yards for UGA last season. This could be a breakout year for Godwin in 2017. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Godwin is a former Callaway High Friday night football star.
Georgia isn’t shorthanded on the defensive side of the ball either. The Dogs will challenge Notre Dame with some of the top defensive talent in the SEC. On the UGA roster is senior defensive tackle John Atkins (6foot-4, 315 pounds), junior linebacker Roquan Smith (6-foot-1, 225 pounds), sophomore defensive tackle Julian Rochester (6-foot-5, 327 pounds) and junior defensive end Jonathon Ledbetter (6foot-4, 269 pounds).
The hairy Dogs also have a tackling machine with senior safety Aaron Davis (6-foot-1, 189 pounds). Georgia can’t wait to step into Notre Dame Stadium and make a statement on Sept. 9.
It will be a blockbuster of a game between the Irish and the Dogs. The game will be televised by NBC.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer