Jake Fromm, who was forced to step up as Georgia’s first-team quarterback two weeks ago, got a huge confidence boost Saturday when the Bulldogs invaded South Bend last weekend and outlasted Notre Dame, 20-19.
He completed 16 of 29 passes for 141 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Terry Goodwin in the second quarter that tied the score at 10-10. Goodwin made a one-handed grab in the end zone, so even Fromm knows he was a little fortunate.
Really, really fortunate considering Fromm didn’t have the mistake-free game he wanted to have in his first start. The freshman threw an interception and had a fumble that led to Notre Dame’s first touchdown. Those are the kind of mistakes that usually fuel momentum swings for the Irish.
But Georgia’s defense made certain that never happened. So did the 44,000 Bulldog fans who turned Notre Dame Stadium into Sanford Stadium North. For a team that was playing its first game north of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1965, the crowd support was a great equalizer.
It was also just the second game ever between the two storied programs. Georgia won the other meeting too with the 1980 national title on the line.
“I thought Fromm played with good poise,” head coach Kirby Smart said after the 15th-ranked Bulldogs beat the No. 24 Fighting Irish. “I never felt like it got too big for him.”
Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:39 left to win the game. It was a nice way for him to pay back Smart for bestowing him with a scholarship earlier in the week.
Still, the win wasn’t clinched until Davin Bellamy sacked Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush, forcing a fumble that Lorenzo Carter recovered with 89 seconds left in the game.
Fromm’s teammates knew going into the game that he would be able to handle the pressure and the environment of taking on a ranked Notre Dame team on its home field. They first became impressed with his maturity during the skill drills in May.
“He has the mind of a 22-year-old trying to make an NFL team,” said Bellamy.
That might be because Fromm has been in the national spotlight before. In 2011, he was a star for the Warner Robins, Ga. team that made it to the Little League World Series. He hit three home runs, had eight RBIs and struck out 11 of the 18 batters he faced in four games.
Now all grown up, Fromm became the UGA starter when Jacob Eason suffered a knee injury against Appalachian State on Sept. 2. He came in to complete 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in a 31-10 win over Appalachian State.
Add in his stats against the Irish and he now has passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns.
“You’ve got to figure he’s going to grow a lot from playing in this kind of atmosphere and environment,” Smart said after the win over the Irish.
As for Eason, he won’t require surgery, according to Smart, but he is expected to be sidelined for at least a few more weeks.
— Because of his family’s historical ties to Notre Dame, Georgia golfer Matthew Beringer could have been forgiven if he had been cheering for both teams. His great-grandfather, Don Miller, was one of the famed Four Horsemen on the 1924 Irish football team immortalized by sports writer Grantland Rice.
“It’s something that I’m incredibly proud of, for sure,” Beringer, a fourth-year junior told the Macon Telegraph last week
Miller was the right halfback alongside quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley and fullback Elmer Layden.
— The storm damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida has led to a handful of cancellations of college football games for a second straight weekend, including Florida International’s scheduled trip to Bloomington to face Indiana on Saturday. That game now won’t be played and will not be rescheduled. IU is looking for an opponent to fill its Oct. 7 open date on short notice to maintain 12 games.
The Georgia Tech at Central Florida game also has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The Yellow Jackets will settle for the extra open date, playing just 11 games this season.
When you are a program that struggles to qualify for bowl games, as IU has been, giving up a home game in Bloomington is never a good option.
Also, Miami’s game at Florida State won’t be played Saturday. It has been rescheduled for Oct. 7.
— The ACC is the only conference with five teams among the top 17 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. Clemson is No. 3, followed by No. 11 Florida State, No. 14 Louisville, No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 17 Miami.
— Ohio State’s 31-16 home loss to Oklahoma in last Saturday’s top-five showdown has largely been blamed on a poor showing by the Buckeyes’ offense. Some fans would go so far to even point their fingers at quarterback J.T. Barrett.
But Ohio State coach Urban Meyer doesn’t plan to make a change, saying, “There’s not a bull’s-eye on J.T. Barrett. It’s part of the system and a group that have to get better.”
Barrett only completed 19 of 35 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown, and while he has trouble with his accuracy on deep passes, he’s not getting much help from his receivers. Barrett also rushed for 66 yards on 18 carries.
— Louisville running back Jeremy Smith will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken right foot in practice last week. He did not play in the Cardinals’ win over North Carolina. No. 14 Louisville hosts defending national champion Clemson on Saturday.
— My prognosticating success after two weeks is 55-14, which accounts for an overlap of several games. By conference: ACC 8-2 (20-4); Big Ten 10-4 (20-7); SEC 10-2 (22-4). Not too shabby.