Georgia (Sept. 9)
Series Record: Georgia leads, 1-0.
Last Meeting: In the Jan. 1, 1981 Sugar Bowl, No. 1 Georgia clinched its first and lone national title with a 17-10 victory over No. 7 Notre Dame, even though the Fighting Irish finished with more total yards, 328-127.
2016 Record: 8-5
Georgia’s Rivals Class Rankings 2013-17: No. 12 (2013), No. 7 (2014), No. 6 (2015), No. 11 (2016), No. 3 (2017)
Notre Dame’s Rivals Class Rankings 2013-17: No. 3 (2013), No. 11 (2014), No. 11 (2015), No. 13 (2016), No. 13 (2017)
Projected Starters Returning: 17 (seven on offense and 10 on defense)
Quarterback: There’s intrigue at the quarterback position in Athens, Ga., with sophomore Jacob Eason challenged for his starting job by early-enrollee Jake Fromm.
Eason, a former five-star recruit, burst onto the scene last year, throwing for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He completed just 55.1 percent of his passes, though that’s expected to improve with experience.
Fromm is also a five-star prospect, the No. 20 player nationally in the class of 2017.
“You never know what will happen," running back Nick Chubb told ESPN. "Jacob Eason was the quarterback last year, but if Jake Fromm can come out and play well, I think that will open it up for either one of them [to be the starter].”
Eason was 16 of 36 for 311 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in Georgia’s spring game. He was also sacked five times, though he was in a non-contact jersey. Fromm, meanwhile, threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns on 14 of 23 passing. He was only sacked once.
“Just watching out there, [Fromm] managed the pocket well," Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart said. "… He’s kind of done that in the two scrimmages we’ve had. He’s made some good throws, he understands the game, he knows where he wants to go with the ball, he sees people open. Early in the game, he came out firing the ball.
It is widely assumed that Eason will lead the offense, though Smart has not declared him the starter entering 2017. Both quarterbacks have their strengths, though their playing styles are different.
Eason, at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, is considered more of a traditional pocket passer in the mold of former Bulldog star Matthew Stafford. Fromm, at 6-2, has drawn comparisons to Aaron Murray, a four-year starter who finished his career with 121 touchdown passes.
Offensive line: Perhaps the weakest spot for the Bulldogs, the offensive line is still a bit in flux.
Senior Isaiah Wynn, a two-year starter at left guard, is moving to left tackle. Sophomore Pat Allen redshirted last year and is a top candidate to start at left guard, though he’s not a surefire starter. At center, junior Lamont Gaillard will likely start after playing right guard a year ago.
On the right side, 341-pound redshirt freshman Solomon Kindley is the likely starter at right guard. He started there throughout the spring. Right tackle is still up in the air, with a battle between senior Dyshon Sims, redshirt freshman Ben Cleveland and junior D’Marcus Hayes.
“I feel good about a few,” Smart told Dawg Nation about his offensive line. “But to be honest I feel like every job we have is open, and that includes every position.”