Notre Dame-Georgia: College Football's Hottest Ticket
To the average college football fan, there is nothing special about Georgia’s Sept. 9 visit to Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish are coming off one of their worst seasons ever (4-8), while the Bulldogs lost all their rivalry games last year (Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech), were crushed 45-14 by Ole Miss, were defeated at home by Vanderbilt, and even barely survived a 26-24 decision versus FCS member Nicholls State, which finished 5-6.
Yet according to CoachingSearch.com earlier this week, a ducat for the Notre Dame-Georgia showdown is currently No. 1 on the most demanded college football ticket. According to the website, here are the top 5 based on using the cheapest ticket currently available on StubHub:
1. Georgia at Notre Dame (Sept. 9) — $499
2. Alabama vs. Florida State in Atlanta (Sept. 2) — $422
The winner puts itself in the pole position for the national title — and a rematch could occur in the Playoff.
3. Oklahoma at Ohio State (Sept. 9) — $347
New OU head coach Lincoln Riley must travel to Columbus to face Urban Meyer in his second week.
4. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 25) — $295
5. Penn State at Ohio State (Oct. 28) — $285
Speculation has it that at least 20,000 Georgia followers are seeking to make the trip to Notre Dame. Getting Southeast Conference games on the Fighting Irish schedule has never been a simple task, which is what makes the two-game series with Georgia in 2017 and 2019 special.
Of all the major conferences that have been formed over the years, many of which don’t even exist — from the old Southwest to the former Big East — the Southeastern Conference was the last to be a part of Notre Dame’s football schedule. It wasn’t until No. 6 LSU’s trip to Notre Dame in 1970 that the Fighting Irish faced an SEC foe.
Among the 10 “classic” SEC programs, Georgia is now the fifth that will play Notre Dame in the regular season, and the first since Tennessee in 2004-05. Here is Notre Dame’s overall record of 19-13 breakdown versus the “old” SEC:
The Irish hold a 5-3 lead in the regular season, with the last two such meetings, and Notre Dame victories, held at LSU in 1997 (24-6) and Notre Dame (39-36). The ’97 win in Baton Rouge against the No. 11 Tigers holds a unique place in Irish lore because it is the only game they ever played in which they neither committed a turnover nor were called for a penalty.
LSU is 2-1 in bowls versus Notre Dame, first exacting revenge in the 1997 Independence Bowl (27-9) and then administering a 41-14 beating in the 2007 Sugar Bowl, setting up its national title run the following season. The Irish then defeated LSU 31-28 in the 2014 Music City Bowl to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Volunteers join LSU as the most consistent SEC staple on Notre Dame’s regular season staple with home-and-home meetings in 1978-79, 1990-91, 1999 and 2001 and 2004-05.
There were regular season meetings in 1976 and 1980, plus 1986-87, but none since then. The most amazing aspect in this series was Notre Dame’s 4-0 record against head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1973-80, highlighted by the 24-23 Sugar Bowl victory in 1973 to win the national title and then upsetting the 11-0 Crimson Tide the following year in the Orange Bowl, 13-11, in head coach Ara Parseghian’s final game.
The most recent national-title-on-the-line meeting easily went Alabama’s way (42-14) in the 2013 BCS Championship.
The most renowned academic institution in the SEC had understandably been the traditional cellar dweller before consecutive 9-4 campaigns with bowl wins and Top 25 finishes in 2012-13 under then head coach James Franklin (now at Penn State).
Like Stanford in the Pac-12, Duke in the ACC and Northwestern in the Big 10, this would seem the most natural academic peer for the Irish in the SEC for future games, although Vanderbilt Stadium’s 39,790 capacity makes it less appealing financially.
The lone previous meetings were a 41-0 Irish whitewash at home in 1995 before surviving a 14-7 contest the following year in Nashville.
Ole Miss (1-1)
In an unusual home-and-home arrangement, Notre Dame visited Jackson, Miss., in 1977, but the return date wasn’t until 1985. The Rebels shocked the No. 3 Irish in the second game of 1977 (20-13), but Notre Dame would win its final 10 en route to the national title.
The 37-14 win over Ole Miss at home improved the Irish to 5-3, but it would be the final victory of head coach Gerry Faust’s Notre Dame career.
The 39-28 upset of head coach Steve Spurrier’s No. 3-ranked Gators in the 1992 Sugar Bowl remains one of the top moments of the Lou Holtz era.
These two have never met in the regular season, and with the Sunshine State fully covered in ensuing years with ACC foes Florida State and Miami, adding the Gators to the slate would seem less likely or necessary.
Like with Florida, the lone meeting was in the Sugar Bowl, with the No. 1 Bulldogs the SEC champ representative. Although Notre Dame out-gained Georgia 328-127 in total yardage (with freshman running back Herschel Walker accounting for 150 yards rushing while the rest of the team totaled minus-13 in total offense), the Bulldogs clinched their lone national title on the strength of a 4-0-turnover margin and three-missed Irish field-goal attempts.
Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State (0-0)
These are the three classic SEC teams Notre Dame has yet to face on the gridiron.
There are four other SEC teams, but Notre Dame either has never played them or did so before they became members of the league.
Arkansas and South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992. Notre Dame has never played the Razorbacks and is 3-1 versus the Gamecocks, with the last meeting a 36-32 loss at home in 1984.
Missouri and Texas A&M left the Big XII to join the SEC in 2012. The Irish are 3-2 against the Aggies, including 2-1 in the Cotton Bowl, where its last major bowl victory occurred with a 24-21 triumph on Jan. 1, 1994. The two had a home-and-home in 2000-01, with the Irish winning 24-10 at home and losing 24-3 the following year at Kyle Field.
Notre Dame also is 2-2 versus Missouri, and oddly the visitor was the victor in all four. Notre Dame won at Missouri (coached by 1975-80 Irish boss Dan Devine) in 1970 by a 24-7 count and 16-14 in 1984.
In turn, the Irish were stunned at home by the Tigers in 1972 (30-26) and in the 1978 opener (3-0) as the defending national champ.