Swarming defensive effort leads Georgia to 20-19 road win over Notre Dame

Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) carries against Notre Dame during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Georgia’s defense is one to be feared.

With true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm making his first career start, the Bulldogs’ defense knew it would have to carry a heavy load Saturday night at Notre Dame. Mission accomplished.

In a 20-19 win over the Irish, the 15th-ranked Bulldogs limited No. 24 Notre Dame to just 55 yards on the ground, forcing Brandon Wimbush to throw early and often. Wimbush, making just his second start for the Irish, was under pressure from the Georgia defenders all night. He finished the night 19-of-39 for 211 yards — a 48.7 completion percentage — without a touchdown.

Despite the struggles, the Irish had a chance to win the game in the final minutes. Down 20-19, Notre Dame stuffed Georgia on third and short and regained possession at its own 19-yard line with 1:57 to play. Wimbush managed to move the chains once before the UGA defense came up big for the final time of the night. Notre Dame had no answer for Georgia’s speed off the edge, and the win was fittingly sealed when Wimbush was strip sacked by Davin Bellamy.

Before the defense was able to finish it off, Fromm led the Bulldogs on a 63-yard drive to put them back in front. Fromm mostly leaned on the running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (with a few flashes from freshman D’Andre Swift) while making just enough plays with his arm. On this drive, Chubb and Michel both had nice runs, including Michel making a man miss in the backfield on a crucial third-and-one conversion. But Fromm, starting in place of the injured Jacob Eason, had the biggest play of the drive — a 31-yard completion to Javon Wims down to the Notre Dame 17.

Four plays later, Rodrigo Blankenship’s 30-yard field goal gave the Bulldogs a 20-19 they would not relinquish.

Fromm threw for only 141 yards and a touchdown (this crazy one-handed grab by Terry Godwin) in the ballgame, but did what he needed to help his team win. In short, he mostly avoided the mistakes freshmen quarterbacks often make. If Eason’s knee injury forces Fromm to stick in the lineup for a few more weeks, Saturday night’s win in a tough road environment shows he has what it takes for Georgia, now 2-0, to continue winning games.

And if the Bulldogs keep playing like this on defense, they will win a lot of them.

– – – – – – –

Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!