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  • Kirby Smart's Dawgs didn't score many style points in a hard-fought win over Notre Dame. In a season where flashy offenses are running up big scores, this was an old-school defense-dominated throwback to the Dooley era, complete with a scoreless first period. Still, considering key injuries to the Dawgs' offensive line and secondary, and the important fact that this was a battle of two Top 10-ranked teams, Georgia's down-to-the-wire victory should good on its resume if the Dawgs find themselves in contention for a College Football playoff spot at season's end. No. 3 Georgia trailed 7 th -ranked Notre Dame 10-7 at the half, but the Irish allowed 16 straight Georgia points in the second half before a late touchdown made it a one-possession game. Georgia got the ball back with a little over 3 minutes left, but couldn't kill the clock. A poor punt set up the Irish at their own 48. However, the Bulldogs' defense stiffened, and Georgia killed the final 58 seconds with Jake Fromm taking a couple of knees. It was a tough battle Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said afterward it was ' probably one of the most physical games that I have coached against any team' and many Georgia fans left the game thinking what we saw Saturday night was a very good Fighting Irish team that's going to win lots of games this season. Just not this one. After the loss, Notre Dame dropped just three spots to No. 10 in the latest AP and Coaches polls. Georgia remained No. 3, and even picked up a first-place vote in each poll. I think it was probably all those rushing yards the Irish gave up to Louisville earlier this season that fueled those unrealistic expectations among media types and some fans that the Dawgs were going to dominate the Irish and win this game by three or four touchdowns. However, many of us figured that a largely untested Georgia team that had faced one SEC doormat and two cupcakes might have a much harder time with the guys in the sparkling golden helmets. During a neighborhood coffee shop sports discussion a few days earlier, I was asked how I thought the game would turn out. I said I expected Georgia to win, but that I thought it likely the margin of victory would be less than the 14.5 points by which the Dawgs were favored. A guy I didn't know chimed in, 'Georgia will win by 6 points.' He hit the nail right on the head. Actually, if not for an uncharacteristic fumble of a punt by Tyler Simmons that set up Notre Dame at Georgia's 8-yard line and the tendency of the ACC officiating crew not to call blatant pass interference or holding by the Irish the Dawgs might well have covered the spread. (Georgia's punt coverage team needs to learn not to nearly interfere with their own returner.) That doesn't change the fact that Georgia has much it needs to correct if it hopes to keep company with the likes of Clemson and Alabama this year. As Smart said after the game, 'We've got a lot of things to work on.' The banged-up offensive line continued to underperform. It allowed too much pressure on Fromm for him ever to consider a long throw downfield, and, on quite a few drives, the OL failed to open up holes for D'Andre Swift and Brian Herrien as the Irish stacked the box, with Georgia averaging only 4.6 yards per run. Georgia's offense was admirably balanced (187 yards passing, 152 yards rushing), but it is going to have to be a lot more dynamic in order for the Dawgs to live up to their advance billing this season. Too many Georgia drives still are ending in field goal attempts. Yes, Rodrigo Blankenship is practically a guaranteed 3 points whenever he's called on, but the Dawgs' short-yardage game remains troublesome. The fact that Smart went with a field goal because he apparently didn't think Georgia could convert on a 4 th -and1 at the Notre Dame 26 with 7 minutes left in the game is concerning. It nearly cost Georgia the win. Notre Dame answered with an Ian Book touchdown pass and then, trailing 23-17, forced a punt to give itself a chanceto win by 1 point late in the game. The Dawgs also continued to be mediocre on third down, converting on only 4 of 11 tries. Defensively, the Dawgs were hampered by missing both their starting cornerbacks for most of the game. The Georgia D came up big at the end, but the lack of pressure on Irish QB Book, especially in the first half, coupled with the soft coverage the Dawgs secondary was playing, allowed the Irish short-passing game to flourish. (Another factor was the lack of holding calls on plays where Book seemed to have unlimited time to find a receiver.) Georgia had trouble all night figuring out how to cover the Irish's Cole Kmet, who matched a Notre Dame record for catches by a tight end in a single game with 9 receptions for 108 yards. And, while Hot Rod is money in the bank with his placekicking, Georgia's punting game (on both ends of the ball) is in dire need of improvement. In addition to the fumble on the punt-receiving end that led to an Irish score, Jake Camarda averaged only 35.2 yards per kick, and shanked one badly late in the game, giving the Irish great field position. On the plus side, the defensive front mostly contained the dual-threat Book, who's known to do quite a bit of damage with his running. In fact, Notre Dame's running game was held in check, with the Irish rushing for only 46 yards Saturday night, and the Dawgs held the visitors scoreless in the third quarter. The Irish were even less successful than the Dawgs on third down, making only 4 of 13 attempts, and converted 1 of their 3 fourth-down tries ( a 1-yard touchdown pass). And, the Dawgs' goal-line defense was impressive. After the Irish recovered that muffed punt, a pass interference call gave them first-and-goal at the 2-yard line, and it took that fourth-down pass for them to score even from there. The Georgia defense again rose to the occasion on Notre Dame's final drive, which ended with a fourth-down end zone pass batted down to the turf. Georgia also got two big interceptions from Divaad Wilson and J.R. Reed , ending Book's streak of 80 pass attempts without a pick . Offensively, Georgia got off to an extremely slow start, but the Dawgs made some key adjustments on both offense and defense at halftime. Fromm had a solid night. While he overlooked some open receivers at times, it was his pinpoint passing that allowed the Dawgs to take control of the game, and he kept his cool. Highlights included third-down completions to Eli Wolf and Lawrence Cager. Fromm completed 20 of 26 passes for 187 yards and a TD. Also, he nearly got a first down on a QB keeper. While Swift almost always had Irish defenders on him as soon as he got the ball, either through handoff or receiving a pass, the tailback showed toughness, often getting more yards than it initially looked like he would simply due to second effort. He wound up with 98 yards and a TD on 18 carries. And, Georgia's receiving corps continues to be the pleasant surprise of the season, with transfers Wolf, Cager and Demetris Robertson all making big-time catches. Cager led the Dawgs with 5 catches for 82 yards and 1 TD. In fact, when Georgia went hurry-up, it appeared Notre Dame's best defense was faking injury to slow things down, which they did twice. All in all, Saturday's game in Athens was an early-season clash that had the feeling of a playoff game. After a week of incredible build-up, game day was electric with anticipation, with tens of thousands of Georgia fans without tickets making their way to Athens just to soak up the atmosphere. And, what an atmosphere it was, aided by the stadium's new LED lighting system, which dimmed at the end of the third quarter to make the fans' Light Up Sanford even more impressive, and then turned everything red. Even Book called 'a great atmosphere.' That atmosphere even figured into the game's final result, with the record crowd of more than 93K serving as the Dawgs' 12 th man. The roaring fans appeared chiefly responsible for Notre Dame having 6 false starts and, more importantly, having to burn four premature timeouts, two in each half. That factored into the Irish failing to capitalize on their great field position late in the game. As the Indianapolis Star put it: ' How loud is it at this place? Loud enough to wonder how those famous English privet hedges, the ones that ring the playing field, refuse to wilt beneath the roars of 93,000 wild-eyed fans.' Said Smart of the UGA crowd: ' They impacted the game tonight more than I've ever seen a game impacted, here or anywhere.' It might not have been the flashiest game of the week, but Georgia's prime-time showdown with Notre Dame was college football at its best. The post Notre Dame provided Dawgs' first real challenge, and Georgia passed the test appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football put on quite a show on Saturday night, and the largest television audience of the season was tuned in, according to a CBS release. The Bulldogs' 23-17 win over Notre Dame peaked with a 6.9 rating and captured an average rating/share of 6.2/13. The ratings are evidence the CBS executives knew what they were doing when they chose Georgia's game with the Irish as their nighttime exemption game. It's the first time since 2010 CBS didn't use it for Alabama-LSU. The Georgia brand looked strong and resilient in its come-from-behind victory in the battle of Top 10 teams, showing potential to be even better moving forward. From an entertainment standpoint, UGA used its new LED lights creatively to keep the fans engaged throughout and provide one of the most unique settings in college football. Coach Kirby Smart was surely pleased. It was one of the most attractive home games for Georgia to showcase its campus and facilities for top recruits in years,. The Bulldogs play their biggest rival, Florida, 330 miles away in Jacksonville annually, which eliminates what would be one of the school's prime-time recruiting weekends in Athens.. The rating marks the highest for a CBS game in September in six years, dating back to when a No. 1-ranked Alabama team faced Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in a 49-42 classic in 2013. To put Saturday night's 6.2/13 rating in further perspective, last year's biggest audience was the SEC Championship Game (10.5/22) and the largest CBS regular-season audience was against Florida in Jacksonville (4.5/10). Smart danced in the locker room to celebrate with his team and entertain recruits, but he might have danced on the field if he knew the Atlanta TV ratings for the Notre Dame game was a 25.9/47 second only to Birmingham (26.8/41). Atlanta was also the No. 2 highest market for last season's SEC Championship Game, and it was No. 3 for both the Florida and LSU games last season. The state of Georgia produces a high volume of top prospects each year, and Atlanta is central to that effort. DawgNation Georgia-Notre Dame Georgia football report card for Notre Dame Kirby Smart says Georgia got tested' in 23-17 win Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly: Physicality was real' Georgia football game ball goes to WR Lawrence Cager Stock report: Georgia has its ups and downs in win over Irish Recap: Georgia football holds on to beat Notre Dame, 23-17 Notre Dame injuries stop momentum, beg questions Vince Dooley showed mercy in previous Top 10 Athens matchup The post Georgia football dominates TV ratings, stays hot in Atlanta appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly seemed offended on Sunday when he was asked about two of his players faking injuries to slow down UGA's momentum in the loss to the Bulldogs. On the questionable play in the third quarter, the UGA offense was quickly moving down the field when Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah got up after a play and was walking slowly off the field. His teammate, Alohi Gilman, pushed Owusu down after appearing to get instructions from the Notre Dame bench. The sly tactic, caught on tape by CBS, worked as the officials called timeout which provided a much-needed breather for the Notre Dame defense. UGA ultimately settled for a field goal. Kelly gave a terse response when asked about the fake injury in his Sunday conference call: 'Owusu was evaluated for a concussion. He was brought to the tent. So, that's hard to be booing at a young man who suffered an evaluation for a concussion. 'Quite honestly, Georgia doesn't play very fast, so I found that to be quite interesting there would be a number of questions on something like that.' But Notre Dame wasn't finished with the alleged fake injuries. Later in the game, linebacker Asmar Bilal appeared to purposely walk into Fromm after a play with Bilal immediately dropping to the ground in an NBA-like flop that would make legendary flopper Vlade Divac very proud. Fromm was visibly frustrated with the flop, and CBS broadcasters even suggested that officials could flag Notre Dame for unsportsmanlike conduct. Kelly's explanation on Sunday: 'Then the other one (Bilal) was cramping.' Bilal was treated with eye drops after his flop. 'Again, it's a non-issue. It happens in college football all of the time. Guys go down and they've got to be administered to. I've seen games against us where there have been many, many more, so I'm not even sure why you're asking the question.' So Notre Dame blatantly just faked an injury. pic.twitter.com/OCWycBRjej Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) September 22, 2019 Second assumed faked injury of the night for Notre Dame. (CBS) pic.twitter.com/8GJSn3FJnZ Pep Talk Sports (@PepTalkSports) September 22, 2019 The post Notre Dame coach bristles when asked about his players faking injuries vs. UGA appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Braves closed their final home regular-season game with new injury concerns about Freddie Freeman and his status for the playoffs. A recurrence of pain caused by a bone spur in his right elbow forced Freeman to leave the Braves' 4-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Braves manager Brian Snitker said Freeman will remain in Atlanta for four days of treatment instead of joining the team for a two-game series in Kansas City. Off days on Monday and Thursday made the decision easy for Snitker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos. 'If we were in the playoffs tomorrow, he would be in the lineup,' Snitker said. 'At times it kind of bites him a little bit. He gets treatment and he's fine. ... We want to make sure that thing gets back right.' Snitker rested Freeman on Saturday night, and the first baseman drove in a run with a groundout in the sixth on Sunday before leaving the game in the eighth. 'It's obviously not ideal,' said Freeman of the injury. 'It responded pretty good with that off day last week, so we hope four days will really do the trick.' Freeman, who won a Gold Glove at first base last season, is a key to the NL East champion Braves' hopes to win their first playoff series since 2001. He is hitting .296 with 38 homers and leads the NL with 121 RBIs. The renewed elbow pain causes concern for Freeman's status for the playoffs. The Braves plan on Freeman joining the team in New York for Friday night's first game of the final regular-season series against the Mets. 'Hopefully some good treatment will make it go away,' he said. '... Hopefully I'll be ready to go for the game on Friday.' Rookie Logan Webb allowed only two hits and one run in six innings as San Francisco prevented the Braves from sweeping the three-game series. Evan Longoria drove in two runs with two hits. Snitker, preparing the NL East champions for the playoffs, rested outfielder Ronald Acu a Jr., third baseman Josh Donaldson and second baseman Ozzie Albies. Albies had his second straight day off before reaching on a pinch-hit single in the ninth. Webb (2-2) struck out seven. He opened the game with five scoreless innings before Adeiny Hechavarr a tripled in the sixth and scored on Freeman's groundout. Relievers Tyler Rogers and Will Smith closed out the combined five-hitter. Smith pitched the ninth for his 34th save. After being outscored 14-1 in losing the first two games of the series, the Giants scored three runs in the sixth off Dallas Keuchel (8-7). Longoria was only 2 for 17 on the road trip before driving in Austin Slater with a double to right-center off Keuchel in the sixth. Joey Rickard's double to left field drove in Longoria and Kevin Pillar, who reached on shortstop Dansby Swanson's fielding error. Longoria added a run-scoring single off Luke Jackson in the seventh. Rickard and Mike Yastrzemski had two hits. Keuchel allowed three runs, two of them earned, on six hits in six innings. TRAINER'S ROOM The Braves haven't given up on utility player Johan Camargo returning from a right shin fracture. Camargo has been on the injured list since Sept. 12. With Charlie Culberson out for the season with facial fractures after being hit by a pitch, the Braves' bench has lost its most versatile players. ATTENDANCE UP The turnout of 33,674 for the final home game left the Braves with their top attendance total since 2007. The season attendance was 2,655,100 - about 100,000 more than 2018's total of 2,555,781. The 2007 total was 2,745,207. COX VISITS BOCHY Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a pregame visit from former Braves manager Bobby Cox, who is recovering from a stroke. The visit sparked memories for Bochy, who is retiring after the season, before his final road game. 'That was really special,' said Bochy, who said the visit added to his emotions for the game. 'I spent a little bit of time with him. You look at the years gone by and I was thinking of our battles, playing the Braves when Bobby was managing, so sure, it was a little bit more today than it's been in the past.' SWANSON STRUGGLES Swanson hit leadoff for only the second time this season and was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his batting average to .244. He whiffed on Longoria's grounder in the ninth for his second fielding error. UP NEXT Giants: Following an off day Monday, the Giants finish the season with a six-game homestand which opens on Tuesday night against Colorado with LHP Madison Bumgarner (9-9, 3.86) facing RHP Jeff Hoffman. Braves: Atlanta opens a two-game series at Kansas City on Tuesday night with RHP Julio Teheran (10-10, 3.55) facing Danny Duffy. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett played brilliantly Sunday. He was poised, accurate and turnover free. He helped the Colts score points, avoided mistakes and capitalized when opportunities arose. He was virtually flawless. Brissett completed his first 16 passes, threw for two touchdowns in the first half, led the Colts to scores on their first four drives and even converted a late third down with an 11-yard completion to Jack Doyle to close out a 27-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. 'I was feeling like everyone was open and I was throwing it to people in my color jersey who were open,' he said. 'It was just one of those days.' One of those days Colts fans might have expected from Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. But in his first game at Lucas Oil Stadium since Luck announced his surprise retirement last month, Brissett stepped onto the big stage and delivered a masterpiece. When the Falcons tried to load up on Indy's emerging ground game, Brissett spread it around, completing 28 of 37 with 310 yards, his second-highest single-game total and third 300-yard game of his career, even as Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton missed the second half because of a quad injury. Brissett took one sack and kept Indy's final scoring drive alive by scrambling 6 yards on third-and-5. 'We won't decide those until tomorrow, but I can guarantee you Jacoby will get a game ball,' coach Frank Reich said. Why wouldn't he? The Colts scored on five of their seven possessions, punted once and picked up three first downs on the final drive to prevent Matt Ryan and the Falcons (1-2) from getting a chance to win it or force overtime after cutting the deficit to 27-24 with 4:11 left. Indy (2-1) has won two straight overall, seven straight at home and won its home opener for the first time since 2013. 'It means we're on the right track. We're doing enough to win in the NFL,' Brissett said. 'In the fourth quarter, we just made it up in our minds that we were going to take over the game and finish with the ball in our hands.' They did even though Ryan did his best to give the Falcons a chance after trailing 20-3 at halftime. After Ryan threw two TD passes to Austin Hooper to make it a 20-17 game early in the fourth quarter, Brissett answered quickly. He ran for one first down, picked up another with a defensive holding call, hooked up with Zach Pascal for 35 yards on third-and-1 and then watched Marlon Mack score on a 4-yard run to make it 27-17 with 8:40 to play. Ryan's 10-yard TD pass to Julio Jones made it a three-point game but Atlanta never got the ball back. 'I think everybody's angry with not performing the way that we can,' Ryan said. 'The penalties, turnovers, those kinds of things, we've had too much of that in the first couple weeks of the season. We had too much of that today.' AUTOMATIC ADAM After missing five of his first eight kicks, 46-year-old Adam Vinatieri reverted to his traditional form. He made all five Sunday, starting with a 49-yard field goal that he banked in off the left upright. 'We expect it,' Brissett said. 'He's the greatest of all-time for a reason.' INJURY REPORT Falcons: Safety Keanu Neal was carted off the field late in the first half with an Achilles tendon injury. He missed last season after tearing an ACL in the season opener. ... Running back Ito Smith left with a concussion in the first half. Colts: Hilton aggravated the quad injury that slowed him in practice this week and defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis (ankle) did not play in the second half. Cornerback Kenny Moore II (forearm), defensive tackle Denico Autry (eye) and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (stringer) all returned. STAT SHEET Falcons: Ryan was 29 of 34 with 304 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He passed John Elway for No. 9 on the league's career list for completions and broke a tie with Elway for No. 11 in TD passes. Ryan now has 4,144 completions and 303 TD passes. ... Jones had eight catches for 128 yards and Devonta Freeman had 16 carries for 88 yards. ... Atlanta committed 16 penalties for 128 yards, one penalty short of matching the franchise record. Colts: Indy had two scoring drives of more than 90 yards. ... The defense has not allowed a 100-yard runner in 21 straight games. ... Hilton had eight caches for 65 yards and one TD. ... Mack ran 16 times for 74 yards. UP NEXT Falcons: face a second straight AFC South foe, Tennessee, next Sunday in Atlanta. Colts: stay home to face Oakland next Sunday. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL