No. 8 Notre Dame inches up CFP rankings, keeps specs on Ga. Tech

Sports

Another week, another spot higher in the College Football Playoff rankings for No. 8 Notre Dame.

The message from coach Brian Kelly: keep your specs on Georgia Tech.

To remain on the upward ladder in the College Football Playoff race, the Fighting Irish must keep landing punches when reeling Georgia Tech spends Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish (9-1) have won five consecutive games by an average of 16.2 points since suffering a 24-13 loss in early October to undefeated Cincinnati, which ascended to No. 5 this week.

Notre Dame kept its last two opponents — Navy and Virginia — out of the end zone, marking the first time the Fighting Irish didn’t give up a touchdown in consecutive games in nine years.

Georgia Tech (3-7) would love to be climbing any ladder. But the Yellow Jackets are headed the opposite direction, having dropped four straight games and are ineligible to play in a bowl game for the third straight year.

Georgia Tech finishes the season at top-ranked Georgia (10-0) on Nov. 27.

“In terms of their motivation, these are their bowl games in back-to-back weeks,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters. “These are the games you feel a little uneasy about because your opponent has nothing to really worry about going into the game other than just taking a free swing and playing without anything to worry about. One at a time, Notre Dame and Georgia and get after it.”

Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan, who completed 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 28-3 win over host Virginia (6-4) last week, could have a big day against a porous Georgia Tech secondary.

The Yellow Jackets gave up 505 yards of total offense, including 310 through the air, in a 41-30 loss to Boston College (6-4) last week. Georgia Tech has given up an average of 337.2 passing yards, in addition to 11 touchdown passes, during their four-game losing streak. For the season, Georgia Tech has allowed 447.8 yards of total offense per game, including 271.9 through the air.

“It’s frustrating, it hurts,” Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins said. “But we’re just going to keep working.”

Coan has gone 174-for-262 passing for 2,011 yards with 16 touchdowns against five interceptions, with his favorite target being tight end Mike Mayer (52 receptions, 577 yards, four TDs) and receiver Kevin Austin (34 catches, 569 yards, six TDs). Kyren Williams has powered the ground game, having rushed for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns on 174 carries.

The Fighting Irish are feasting on Atlantic Coast Conference teams.

Notre Dame has won 23 straight regular-season games — among them 17 double-digit victories — against ACC opponents dating to 2016. They’ve also won 40 straight games against unranked teams dating to the 2016 season, which is the FBS’ longest current streak.

Georgia Tech’s lone bright spot this year has been Jahmyr Gibbs, who has rushed for a team-high 687 yards and four touchdowns on 129 carries, in addition to leading the team with 469 receiving yards to go along with two scores. He’s scored four touchdowns of at least 50 yards, including two over 70 yards, in addition to returning a kickoff return 98 yards for another score.

Kyric McGowan has a team-leading seven scoring receptions to go with 454 yards on 33 catches.

Quarterback will be the biggest question mark for Georgia Tech.

Jordan Yates replaced Jeff Sims against Boston College and is expected to start against Notre Dame after going 17-for-28 passing for 126 yards with a touchdown and an interception, in addition to rushing for 47 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, against the Eagles.

Notre Dame will continue to be without standout safety Kyle Hamilton, who will miss the game with a knee injury that has sidelined him since Oct. 23.

–Field Level Media

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